Do Not Play for the Crowd
“Pilate handed Jesus over to be flogged … The soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on his head … they struck him… they shouted, ‘Crucify! Crucify!’…” John 19:1-2, 6
Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous Polish composer-pianist, was once scheduled to perform at a great American concert hall for a high-society extravaganza. In the audience was a mother with her fidgety nine-year-old son. Weary of waiting, the boy slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the Steinway on the stage. Without much notice from the audience, he sat down at the stool and began playing “chopsticks.” The roar of the crowd turned to shouts as hundreds yelled, “Get that boy away from there! That piano is for the Master!”
When Paderewski heard the uproar backstage, he grabbed his coat and rushed over behind the boy. Reaching around him from behind, the master began to improvise a countermelody to “chopsticks.” As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy’s ear, “Keep going. Don’t quit, son, don’t stop, don’t stop.”
When Paderewski and the young boy ended their piece, the crowd burst into applause. Paderewski, while taking a bow, stepped back and motioned to the boy as the standout. The crowd cheered louder. Paderewski created “an Easter event”.
Why an Easter event? Because the young boy never lost hope, never gave into the crowd’s disapproval and disgust. The boy continued to give his best music in spite of the negative atmosphere in which he found himself. He listened to the Master.
Many find the political atmosphere in which we are embroiled toxic. Many are trapped in negative relationships, which threaten to drag them down. Many have lives encumbered with strife and conflict, feeling as if they should give up. But the Easter story asks us to “Play On!” Offer your life to a greater good. Live as if your very involvement, in that greater good, will bring it to life.
As the small boy playing the piano on stage, we should not play to the crowd. We need to keep playing while letting the Master convince us, “Play without ceasing, until you experience the great joy of victorious life, which is yet to come”.
Have a Joyous & Victorious Easter, Rev. John Hughes