Friday Reflection – 28th May 2021

The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.

Today’s reflection is from John Barnett, a local preacher and member of Victoria Methodist Church. John is a partner at Burges Salmon LLP where he heads the Tax, Trusts, and Family team. He works as a solicitor and chartered tax adviser.

Romans 12: 4-8

Paul’s vision of the church as the body of Christ has been told countless ways. But during the last year of lockdowns, I have experienced it specifically in relation to the virtual hymns which we have put together at Vic. The process of stitching together 25-30 audio tracks, each recorded separately at home, provides a number of metaphors for our life together as Christians.

First, the singers need a backing track. In order to keep in time we need someone who has recorded it first; someone to guide our singing. We need to listen carefully and try and follow the pattern which the backing track lays down for us.

Second, each individual singer – even the best – will produce an imperfect recording. Each of us, individually, will croak, warble or sing off-key. Of course, with modern audio-editing software it is possible to correct all of that. With one button I can “set all to perfect pitch”. But while that may make the sound more perfect, it makes it far less authentic; far less real.

Third, it is only when all the tracks come together that something amazing happens. The individual imperfections of each track somehow cancel each other out. Your sharp note is cancelled by my flat note and the overall sound becomes complete. And beyond the unison which this creates, we find the richer glories of harmony: each singing or playing a different note, but coming together to produce chords and texture.

And last we need an editor; someone to put together all the tracks; to edit them faithfully; to gloss over and correct some of the larger mistakes, but to do so in a way which is still authentic to the individual parts and make sure that all are valued and given equal prominence.

Like all good parables, this one does not need an extended explanation. So instead I’ll conclude with words from Singing the Faith (611 v5).

When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.
[Richard A M Gillard b 1953)