The first piece of music I heard as your pastor was an amazing rendition of the Widor Toccata on Easter Sunday morning. After Ray Horsley presented that, I almost decided that anything less would be anti-climatic. Would have thought so if not for the wonderful rendering of the Hallelujah Chorus, joined by the orchestra, band, and choir. Sunday in and Sunday out, Ray has brought the might Rogers organ of our sanctuary to life – often in solo fashion, but even more impressively when joining with the other voices and instruments. We are among all churches most blessed.
This Sunday will mark Ray’s last service with us as organist; at least for now. It seems he and his beloved wife have a habit of disengaging from the world and traveling with a rather open-ended itinerary. The Horsley’s did the same a few years ago after his first stint on the bench. Word I hear is that they will start in Central America and work their way on from there. We will miss them, and in particular, Ray’s musical gift. But we release them in love – really don’t have much choice – and wish them well on their journey. We have been so blessed to have them be part of our journey for this season, and truly wish them Godspeed into the next.
Music in worship is a blessed and often confounding thing. No doubt God is pleased with excellence in what we do, and his people are impressed and lifted to a higher expression of love and devotion through it all. Ray has constantly done that and more. Yet he has done it with a heart and mind that knows worship is neither about those who produce or receive the sweetest sounds. It is about the God who is lifted up and the faith of all the people who are moved closer to Him through what is played and sung. That’s a reflection of the very best values of our music ministry, and that pleases me. While in all we do we have preferences and strive for perfection, it is not about that. Knowing that makes the gift even more graciously received. And his is a gift for which we have been grateful and will be missed.
We will take a few moments to say thank you on Sunday, and sing a mighty medley of hymns prior to the preaching of the words. In doing so, we will give Ray thanks and God honor for the great things they have done. I am hopeful that the pilgrim’s trail will wind its way back to the shores of St. Pete, though Ray would tell you that Lord only knows. So let’s express thanks for his gifts – one of the many shared on a weekly basis – that make our worship richer and our faith deeper.