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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

A good word for bass players

A while back my wife and I spent a delightful evening at the Dakota, a jazz club in downtown Minneapolis, listening to a wonderful group called the Roy Hargove Quintet. We had prime seats up front, only a few feet from the musicians.

You may have seen one or two of the many books exploring the link between our life in the church as the Body of Christ and jazz. I'm not going to re-plow that ground. I just want to think about the bass player.

Roy Hargrove, the quintet leader, plays the trumpet and flugelhorn. Then there's a saxophone guy, a pianist, a drummer, and the bass player. Standard jazz quintet. Hargrove, haven given his name to the group, got plenty of solo turns. The sax guy did as well. The pianist and the drummer had their moments in the spotlight. And every now and then, just for a few bars, the bass player showed off. But most of the time, the bassist was just providing the "basement" for the rest of the musicians. He stood in the back. He played. And he smiled most of the time.

Pat and I talked about it later. The bassist wasn't in the spotlight, but he was essential. The music simply wouldn't have sounded the same without him. This particular man seemed to be quite content to be in the background, doing his essential work. He didn't need the spotlight. But I'm sure he appreciated the applause at the end.

Chances are that there are a few "bassists" in your congregation. The folks who set up the coffee every Sunday morning. The people who are ready to usher every week. The cooks who come through for all the special events. Sunday School teachers. Lawn mowers. Snow shovelers. Altar Guild. They're in the background, simply doing their thing dependably. They don't get the spotlight the way pastors and interns do, but that seems to be OK with them. Your church would be lost without them.

These are not people who are working for recognition. But recognition is a nice bonus, and a reflection that you appreciate the people who make life happen in the congregation.

Say thanks to a bassist today. Maybe two.

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