Jesus on the Banjo

by DanWolgemuth on April 23, 2018

Bela Fleck. It seems that I was almost the only one in my family who didn’t know his music or his prowess.

Bela is considered by many to be the finest banjo player in the world. Nearly 60 years old, he was named after renowned classical composer Bela Bartok.

Over the course of Fleck’s career, he has written a number of classical pieces, including the one that he performed with the Denver Symphony Orchestra on Friday night. While sitting on a slightly elevated platform next to Brett Mitchell, the young Orchestra Conductor, Bela played the music he had written. A full orchestra played behind him, while Brett Mitchell made certain that the symmetry between the lead musician and his team stayed aligned. However, make no mistake, this was Bela’s music, his symphony.

Throughout the 25 minutes of nonstop music, Bela would glance over his shoulder at the full ensemble that played behind him, that played with him. From time to time he would fix his gaze on Brett Mitchell, as though to assure him of his support, his blessing, his commissioning. It was Bela’s banjo, his fingers on the frets. He had placed the notes on the page, all for the orchestra to play. With him. For him.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14, ESV)

The Word. Flesh. Among.

The composer came and played his banjo beside us. As part of the orchestra. But make no mistake, this is His music, His composition.

Find hope… a misplayed note in the woodwind section doesn’t mean that the composition is flawed. This is a masterpiece, a classic. It is the honor of the orchestra to steward the notes that the composer etched, but he is gracious, even as he is a perfectionist.

Not only did Bela write the music, he played with the orchestra. He showed them the way. He inspired each participant by flawlessly pressing his fingers on the strings. He was one of them, but so much more.

Jesus, on the banjo. Violins, oboes, tympany, trumpets… playing the notes written, playing with the composer, following the banjo.

The composer lives, the composer plays with us.

Full of grace and truth.

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