Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Scripture for the Day: II Timothy 4:1-5

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching.
For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.

We know that we are living through a very intense and important time in history. I have not experienced anything like this in my 44 years of life. Much is required of us. And yet, when we spend time in our scriptures, we remember that in another sense, there is indeed nothing new under the sun. Our scripture today was written in a time of great upheaval and unrest as well. As I read and reread these verses, it helped me to be grounded in where God is calling me to listen, to pray and to act in these days.
In a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, John Mauceri wrote this about Classical Music:

“The core composers of the classical canon all lived in times of crises, personal and political, in which wars raged, bombs could be heard down the street, unexplained and untreatable illnesses were common, and the deaths of children, parents and loved ones were everyday occurrences. Beethoven lived alone in Vienna as Napoleon’s troops invaded, all the while knowing that each day would bring him closer to total deafness – and he wrote music. Every Beethoven symphony, no matter how circuitous the journey, ends in the uplift of a major chord.”

I asked one of the pianists in our home, Jonny, to explain the significance that each of Beethoven’s symphonies end in the uplift of a major chord. He explained, “Even in the midst of suffering, he ends with hope and confidence. If you hear an entire piece in a minor key, and then hear a major chord at the end, you feel your spirit lift. It’s like watching the sun come out from behind the clouds.”

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not grow weary in doing what is right. Our text in II Timothy reminds us of our values and the work we have each been called to do: proclaim the message, be persistent, rebuke, encourage, be patient and carry out our ministries in full. The plurality of witness to the faithfulness of God ensures that this will look different for each of us. If you are grieving today, how does this text speak to you? If you are fighting illness, how does this text speak to you? If you are suffering, rejoicing, empowered or struggling to find your voice, how does this text speak to you?

We have been given examples of people who have made choices to do the work God has called them to, whether the time is favorable or unfavorable. Let us take courage in remembering these truths and with great humility, let us follow in the Way of Christ to the best of our ability. Perhaps while reflecting on these next steps, listen to one of Beethoven’s piano sonatas. Jonny recommends Sonata No. 14. (Stop at the end of the second movement if you want to end on a major chord!)