But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you —see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
– 2 Corinthians 8:7, NIV
One person tells the story of what happened at a concert in November 1995 -- when the violinist Itzhak Perlman performed at the Lincoln Center in New York City. Perlman had polio as a child and walks with crutches. The audience waited patiently as he made his way slowly across the stage to his chair, sat down, put his crutches on the floor, removed the braces from his legs, settled himself in his characteristic pose, one foot tucked back, the other pushed forwards, bent down to pick up his violin, gripped it with his chin, and nodded to the conductor to indicate he was ready. “‘Just as he finished the first few bars,’ the Houston Chronicle music critic recalls, ‘one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap – it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.’ It was obvious – he had to put down his violin, replace his braces, pick up the crutches, heave himself to his feet, make his laborious way offstage and either get another violin or restring his crippled instrument. “He didn’t. He closed his eyes for a moment, and then signaled the conductor to begin again.
Everyone knows it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings . . . . but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that. He played with such passion and such power and such purity…You could see him modulating, changing, and recomposing the piece in his head…At one point it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get…sounds from them they had never made before.
When he finished there was an awed silence, and then the audience rose, as one. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering – doing everything that we could to show him how much we appreciated what he’d done. He smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said, not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone, “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music he can still make with what he has left.”
You don't have to be a genius in order to excel, you just have to keep at it. And excelling at the grace of giving is something each one of us can choose to do. Thank you to those who have already made pledges. If you have yet to make one, please make plans to do so as one way to excel in your generosity. You can make your pledge in worship, on our website, through the mail, or using our drop box outside the Welcome Center.