A while ago I was travelling in a car with a colleague, following another car with two other colleagues in it. We received a text message from the passenger in the other car, remarking on the classical music playing: “It’s very cultured in here.”

We had a chuckle at that and sent the reply, “So is a pot of yoghurt!”

There was a short pause as the text message made its way through the ether to the phone in the car in front of us and while the passenger read it out, followed by obvious signs of laughter.

I was reminded of this a moment ago as I searched for some background music on my computer and re-found a selection of classical tracks (which are playing now). My study currently has more culture than a live yoghurt: Grieg, Bach, Pachelbel, Mozart, Vivaldi, Elgar… music that has been composed by all these and others beside is filling my study and ears with beautiful melodies.

When the orginal scores were written (by hand, on parchments, with a quill or ink pen) the composer’s music would only live when performed by an orchestra. Otherwise they would simply be memories for those who heard the performances, perhaps hummed as they went about their daily routine. With the advent of devices to capture and replay sounds (which have metamorphosed from gramophones into MP3 players) music took on a different role in the lives of people. It became less of an event and more of an accompaniment to life, evolving into an everyday part of our experience.

I hope and pray that the same is becoming more true of my following Jesus. Becoming a Christian is not simply something that has happened in the past which I remember and hum to myself occasionally but is the rhythm and melody that accompanies and inhabits what I say and do. Jesus is the composer, conductor and I am part of his orchestra – seeking not to play too many wrong notes.

If you would like to preserve the cultured moment, please don’t read on… if you would like a classic joke, please continue.

When Beethoven passed away, he was buried in a churchyard. A couple days later, the town drunk was walking through the cemetery and heard a strange noise coming from the area where Beethoven was buried. Terrified, the drunk ran and got the priest to come and listen to it. The priest bent close to the grave and heard some faint, unrecognizable music coming from the grave.

Frightened, the priest ran and got the town magistrate.

When the magistrate arrived, he bent his ear to the grave, listened for a moment, and said, “Ah, yes, that’s Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, being played backwards.”

He listened a while longer, and said, “There’s the Eighth Symphony, and it’s backwards, too. Most puzzling.” So the magistrate kept listening, “There’s the Seventh… the Sixth… the Fifth…”

Suddenly the realization of what was happening dawned on the magistrate. He stood up and announced to the crowd that had gathered in the cemetery, “My fellow citizens, there’s nothing to worry about. Beethoven’s decomposing.”

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