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Keith Wishum: Ministering through music

Debra Hughes and the Americus Sumter County High School band preached a powerful sermon. Relax; it was legal and no boundaries between church and state were breached. In fact, most wouldn’t have realized a sermon was preached. But it was powerful, nonetheless.
The band preached a powerful sermon about creation. The music was beautiful because it was highly organized and performed with precision. Nowhere was this more evident than in the percussion ensemble’s performance. Hidden in the dark, wielding, glow-in-the-dark drumsticks illuminated with black lights, these young musicians put on a dazzling show of timing. Hands moved as one, rising and falling together, crossing over each other to play each other’s drums.
Nobody in the audience thought, “What an amazing accident!” It was obviously the result of carefully planned music and highly organized practice. So it is with this world of beauty in which we live. As the Psalmist said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalms 19:1). Like good music, our universe is the result of a great Composer who arranged it.
The band preached a powerful sermon about submission to authority. These students did not each do his own thing. They were led. At times, there are tensions and frustrations throughout a year of band practice. But, as students are instructed and pushed and reprimanded, they yield their will to that of the director. The band is better because of it. Imagine if each were allowed to play his own personal favorite song. The result would be chaos.
Instead, band members follow the director’s instructions. Hughes obviously loves her students and they love her, and they understand that she gives them instructions so they will be better. When they follow her lead, they make beautiful music together. When we follow our Conductor’s lead, so do we.
The band also preached a powerful sermon about how we should treat each other. Band members come in every possible skin tone. Their families fall in a wide range of income levels. Members play different instruments and sound different notes. But they played together. They provided beautiful music because they played in harmony.
That’s what people with differences create when they live well together. It’s how God calls us to live: “live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers” (1 Peter 3:8).
Thanks, band, for your powerful preaching!

Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.