Part 3 of Notes from a 1st Century Pastor

I have never played in a pit orchestra. I almost did once.

My sophomore year in high school I was set to play keyboard for the spring musical. I hopped in my car, a crummy ’84 Ford Escort we called a deathtrap, and drove off to my first orchestra rehearsal, forgetting the keys score I’d set on the roof. For some reason, I never did find the book, a large folio, the size of an artist’s sketch pad.

Thankfully, my director didn’t require me to pay for the rented book, but neither would I receive a replacement. Whatever it was I was supposed to play—sound effects, string pads, etc.—would be missing from the pit.

If you aren’t familiar with an orchestra pit, walk down to the front of an auditorium. There is an open space between the stage and the first row of seats. (Those rows on the floor, by the way, are referred to as orchestra seats.) Sometimes this pit is literally a cave beneath the stage, some ten feet deep, with a narrow slit of a few feet for the conductor to be seen by the players on stage and the musicians in the pit. The one in my high school auditorium was fitted with a strong net to catch the less nimble.

The one time I did get to play in the pit was my senior year when the arts department produced Godspell. However, most Godspell productions feature the band onstage. A chain link fence was erected (on which “Jesus” would be crucified) between the actors and the band, which perched on platforms, a far contrast to the concept of the pit.

Knowing His Place

John the Baptist had quite a following—men and women who were tired of the religious establishment. But some of his disciples grew concerned over the growth of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, whose agenda was similar to John’s.

And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” —John 3:26 ESV

John wasn’t threatened by Jesus’ ministry, though. He continued to point to Jesus, lessening his own influence and emphasizing Jesus’ authority. He paints a picture for his disciples.

John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. —John 3:27-29 ESV

I’ve played at a lot of weddings and have seen some interesting things happen, but never have I seen the best man try to take the groom’s spot. Nor a maid of honor the bride’s place, for that matter. The attendants know their place and constantly look toward the bride and groom.

John summed it:

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” —John 3:30 ESV

No Credit

Watch the credits at the end of a movie and look for the mention of any musician. You’ll usually you’ll find just one: the composer of the film score. Maybe a music coordinator. Third cello? First horn? Timpani? Concert master? You won’t see their names. They’ve likely been paid for their contribution but won’t get the honor afforded the best boy or the key grip—whatever they do.

So what does it look like in life to move offstage, out of the lights, into the pit?

How do I point to Jesus as the center?

What will my conversations look like?

As a husband?

A father?

How about you?

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