“The night is dark and cold, a fierce wind rattles the windowpanes. A small ten-year-old boy tiptoes quietly down the stairs, trying not to wake up the others in the house. Slowly he pushes on the door to the study. Johann Sebastian Bach has a burning desire to play new music. After his parents died, Johann lives with his brother, a church organist. His brother keeps his music locked away since he thinks it is too valuable to be used by children. Johann has already mastered the beginner pieces and now wants something more difficult to practice. Johann squeezes his arm through the lattice of the music cabinet. Carefully, he rolls a manuscript and eases it out of the cabinet and spreads the pages out on the table. The rest of his night will be spent carefully copying the notes of the piece he will begin to learn the following day. When he has finished, he carefully places the music back in the locked cabinet. Johann returns to his own bed, filled with anticipation of playing the new music. For young Johann, music is more than something to listen music it is the way he expresses his thoughts and feelings.
So began the musical career and obvious gifting of young Johann. His dedication to music soon paid off and at just 17 he got his first job as a church organist. Word of his musical abilities spread very quickly as people heard about his amazing talent. Eventually he got a job directing a choir and writing worship music used in the service. Even though as time went on he became very popular, Johann never forgot where the true gifting came from. When he began a new piece, he would quietly pray. “Jesus, help me show your glory through the music I write. May it bring you joy even as it brings joy to your people.” Without Jesus’ help, Johann knew he’d never be able to complete the task. Before writing even one note, Johann carefully formed the letters J J at the top of every original piece of music, it came from the Latin, Jesu Juva (Jesus Help Me!). With that, the music began to pour from his heart onto the page. When he was finally finished, he wrote the letters SDG at the bottom of the page – Soli Deo Gloria – For the Glory of God Alone. He hoped that when the music was played, it would always point toward God and not to him.
I shared a message late last year on ‘The Priority of Worship’. The main theme of my message was on praise and worship in song , this is a vital reason that we gather as a church on a Sunday morning, to worship God in song. But worship is more than songs of praise and more than what happens on a Sunday morning. In Romans 12:1 Paul wrote about “offering yourselves (our whole life) as a living sacrifice to God, saying “this is your spiritual act of worship” Worship, in a real sense, is all that we do to the glory of God, offered as worship to Him. So then, in the workplace, wherever I work, the way I work, my integrity, the quality of my work, my relationships with my colleagues, my honesty, all of this is an offering of worship to God. My actions in the home, as mother, father, spouse, my relationships with my neighbours, all of this can be properly seen as worship. And this is what Johann Bach realized when he wrote JJ, and SDJ on his compositions. I can only do this with God’s help, and I offer it, in the end to His glory. May you start each morning writing JJ on your day, and SDG on your evening, offering it all as worship to His glory.
On a different note (pun intended!) I made an announcement on 17th of June that I was starting pastoral work at Heartland soon but was planning to still be around on Sunday morning at LBC from time to time. The ministry at Heartland is going ahead in leaps and bounds, so I need say that realistically I will not be able to come to Lilydale on a Sunday morning. Thank you for allowing Nola and I to be a part of your lives for a season.
Peter Los JJ SDG