Burgess: Have you practiced being a Christian?

  • Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013 12:11 a.m.
    UPDATED: Saturday, January 26, 2013 12:12 a.m.
Dr. Philip Burgess
Dr. Philip Burgess

Over the years I have had many piano and organ students. They have ranged in proficiency from basic beginner to college and graduate student level. Whatever the ability level, however, they all have one thing in common.

They all need daily practice. While the old saying “practice makes perfect” may indeed be true, I prefer the saying “perfect practice makes perfect.”


I love to teach and I always find it amusing to watch my students get around those areas of a piece that they find a bit more challenging.

Usually they play really fast those sections that are easy. As the piece gets a bit more challenging they begin to slow down.

Some have been known to hold their breath or close their eyes as they navigate the rough passages.

Others turn the page and simply leave out the parts they can’t play. Some have been known to “lose” the book or forget to bring the piece to their lesson.

As each student finishes and I get over the initial shock of their performance, my first words are usually “have you practiced?” They usually affirm that indeed they have, but only the easy parts! I can only laugh, as in each student I see myself. Yes, I too have been there, done that and I continue to struggle with it daily.

Being a Christian takes practice as well. Every Sunday we hear readings from the Scriptures. Some lessons are easy and we can live into those with no problem.

But, what about loving our enemies and those that persecute us? What about loving and forgiving those that we do not like or who have harmed us? What about turning the other cheek? Yes, those are a bit harder, and like my students, we may hold our breath, close our eyes, slow down, turn the page, or simply ignore these teachings altogether.

To simply ignore what we do not like will not work. We must take the good and the bad, the difficult and the easy to make our life’s music complete.

I ask you to practice. Practice being a Christian. Live fully into what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Practice living fully into the scriptures, the easy and the difficult. Do not simply practice, but practice perfectly, completely and purposefully.

By putting a new song in your heart, others will see Christ in you. They may even sing along.

Dr. Phillip E. Burgess is director of music ministries at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

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