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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Today’s Reading | Luke 18:9–14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” (NRSV)

Jazz legend Dave Brubeck played many incredible concerts at Fourth Presbyterian Church, and I had the good fortune of getting to know him through those events. One of Dave’s last concerts in Chicago was at Symphony Center, and after the concert, I was invited back stage to say hello to him. Onstage he was so energetic, creative, and flawless, but offstage his age really showed, and he even appeared a bit frail. He was sitting alone in the dressing room when I found him, and I said, “That was an incredible concert!” He replied with such humility, “Oh, do you really think so?”

I have learned in my years of being a church musician that the true legends, the truly great people, are the most humble. In their humility, they are not afraid to question themselves and are willing to be vulnerable. By being humble, they only become stronger. But those who are not humble, those who appear arrogant, are usually just hiding something. They are too afraid of what they are hiding to appear humble, so they live behind a pretentious wall of their own regrettable creation.

Jesus said, “All who are exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” I am thankful that Dave Brubeck was among the humble, and I am thankful that I have known many other people like him. I hope and pray that I can live up to that same humility myself.

Loving God, teach me to be humble so that I may be vulnerable and not afraid of change. Blessed Jesus, help me to be humble so that I may become stronger and more like you. Living Spirit, guide me to be more humble so that I may grow and become one with you. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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