Don’t Blame Buxtehude, Either!

Cadence at the Piano, Christmas, 2008
Lord, Protect me from your Followers, Part Two
Last month I posted about notorious acts that have been committed in the name of Christianity and those events’ impact on a world that watches us practice our faith. The gist of my post was that people reject God when Christians do ugly things. I compared that phenomenon to blaming Beethoven when an inept orchestra butchers one of his masterpieces.
Today I want to suggest that they blame Buxtehude, too.
You’ve probably never heard of Dietrich Buxtehude. I hadn’t either, until I did a little research. Buxtehude was a composer, but he never achieved Beethoven’s lasting fame.
The media highlight the “big” events that stain the reputation of our faith: A Christian senator’s affair is discovered. A pair of well-known pastors suggest that the events of September 11, 2001, resulted from God’s wrath on a nation that tolerates pagans, the ACLU, and homosexuals. Instead of recognizing that these headline events are perpetrated by famous, yet flawed humans, people blame God.
But for every dismal rendition of a “Beethoven classic,” we not-famous people of faith mess up the Buxtehude score thousands of times over. Our “audience” may not know what the Buxtenhude score was supposed to sound like, but they can hear that we’ve hit a sour note.
The difference is this: We ordinary followers of Christ don’t make the nightly news when we mess up. Instead, the reverberations of our poorly-formed chords echo in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces. And they hurt.
Of course the shortcoming is ours, not the Composer’s. But what people remember is that they didn’t like the music.
We can’t control the actions of famous Christians, the ones who are performing Beethoven at Carnegie Hall. But we can play that Buxtehude score faithfully when we gather at the community band shell with our dented horns and battered violins.
When I draw on the Spirit that dwells in me, I can control my sharp tongue when a family member disappoints me. I can offer to help my neighbor pull weeds, instead of sniping about an unattractive yard. I can offer grace to a coworker who blames me when a project doesn’t go smoothly.
And the music is sweeter when I do.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Galations 5:22-26 (NASB)



  1. Sheila, I love your music analogy.

  2. Thanks, Red! Happy St. Valentine's Day to you and the lovely Bonnnie!