In second grade, I started taking piano lessons with my aunt, my Dad’s older sister. It wasn’t negotiable. My three brothers had done this as well. I was a mediocre student at best, my aunt had little interest in allowing me to try some song that I liked, from a musical perhaps, and so I trudged on as best I could.
Finally, when I had finished 6th grade, I quit and went on to take organ lessons from a remarkable organist at a Methodist church not far from my home. It was the only way I could figure out how to get out from under piano lessons with my aunt.
I took organ lessons for a couple of years, then left that behind. I often received requests to play the organ for funerals during my high school years. Many good musicians had day jobs — I was a kid who wasn’t in the workforce yet, so I was available to play for funerals. I only played for one or two weddings and swore I would never do that again. But funerals were reasonably straightforward. Much of the service was spoken, not sung, and the hymns were generally well known.
Currently, I fill in for the regular organist at our church every third week or so. I no longer feel confident in playing the organ, so when I pinch-hit for Isaac, I do so on the piano. Even so, I generally screw up. A younger skilled musician has shared some tips to make the task easier. I will attempt that this coming Sunday. I am grateful, beyond measure, for the pay; and nervous, in equal measure, for the job. Musically trained people are kind and withhold their comments while the congregation pays me for my attempt.
Long ago, I earned a Master of Divinity degree after training to be a Lutheran Pastor. I was approved for ordination, but life intervened, and I have never been ordained a pastor. Looking back, I think I did that task rather well, while musicianship I regularly fail. Such is life. Sometimes we are asked to tackle jobs beyond our comfort zones.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.