The king of Musicania was coming!

The people of the tiny village of Tuneville were ecstatic. The great and benevolent king of all of Musicania was coming to their little village to hear their music. He was actually making the trip to their humble town to hear their orchestra. The king whom everyone loved, who had driven out all the marauders and criminals and brought peace and prosperity to the kingdom of Musicania was coming to Tuneville! The townsfolk could hardly restrain themselves for joy.

Finally, the day of the kings visit arrived and all the people streamed down to the great concert hall in the middle of town to hear the orchestra play a glorious Tuneville Symphony for their wonderful king.

The king took his place in the Royal Box high above the auditorium and the townsfolk rushed to fill all the seats below, waiting expectantly for the curtain to open.

A hush descended upon the auditorium as the great velvet curtains slowly parted – – – and then a gasp escaped their lungs as they witnessed what was on the stage. Where was the orchestra? Although the platform was filled with chairs for the orchestra, with instruments at every place, the stage was nearly empty.

At the front was the the conductor dressed in all his finery with his baton in hand and the music on the stand before him. To his left was one lonely violinist; at the back stood a shabbily dressed man behind the kettle drums; to the right, two young girls with flutes giggling and chewing gum; at the piano a man sat, smoking a cigarette and sipping a drink while arguing with another man who stood next to the piano reading a newspaper. Suddenly a man came running onto the stage from the wings, sat down at a chair with a viola and began tuning the instrument. He was soon followed by two others, one who picked up a clarinet and began wetting the reed, making squawking sounds as he warmed it up and another who came in with a banjo, looked at it, threw it down and took up a cello which he also began to tune by picking away at the strings. When the noise had subdued a little, the maestro raised his baton high in the air and the symphony commenced. A horrid cacophony of noise erupted from the instruments of this rag-tag orchestra. Not one of the instruments was in tune and no one seemed to be even playing the same music, that is, if the racket that ensued could even be called music.

As one, the audience turned their faces around and up to see the reaction of their beloved king to this offering of bedlam. But the king was seated too far back in the box for anyone to see. They couldn’t even be sure if he was still there. Then outrage overcame them and they railed at the conductor and the musicians on the stage. “This is a travesty,” they shouted, “Fire the conductor! Replace the musicians!” and other words of scorn and derision.

Suddenly, when the crowd was at their loudest, a great bellow ensued from the Royal Box – a roar so strong that it rattled the windows, shook the chandeliers and brought fear into the hearts of all. As one, each head turned up to stare at the Royal Box. There stood their king. His face, usually so kind and benevolent, was stern and set as stark and hard as flint. His eyes gleamed with anger and his stare burned to the very soul of each one gathered below.

Then he spoke, his voice thick with the emotion of his anger.

“Yes, there is travesty here! Not with the conductor nor with these few souls who played their instruments, but with you!” And here he pointed his finger at the audience so that each person felt that finger pointed straight at them. “On that stage are enough instruments for each one of you to play. Twice a week the conductor invited all of you to come and practice for this event, but you would not. Each of you was too busy with your own interests to prepare for the coming of the king, to come and play and give the king honour. Each of you has enjoyed the peace and prosperity that the king has brought to this kingdom, but when the opportunity came for you to honour your king, you cast it aside. However, when the king did come, you decided to enjoy the glory that the king receives by joining yourself to the king as part of the audience. This is the travesty! There is only ONE in the audience – and that is the king! The conductor and those few who played will receive rewards from the king for their faithfulness – but as for you, because you would not give homage to the king and give him the glory he deserves, my soldiers will come and eject all of you from my kingdom and exile you to a hard place far away.”

The Moral of the Story

Each week, in the Divine Liturgy, we are invited by our King to come into His heavenly Kingdom and bring our ‘symphony’ of praise and worship to Him. He stands in His Royal Box at the high place and awaits our offering of ‘music’. This is not just a story, but it is reality. When the presbyter raises the Holy Gospels and exclaims, “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, the very gates of heaven open and we enter before the throne of the King of Heaven where all the angels and saints who have gone before, stand in glorious worship of our King. Like Elisha’s servant of old, we cannot see this glory because our eyes are dulled by sin and the love of earthly things. But, whether we see or not, this is true.

There is no audience at the Divine Liturgy except for the King. Lead by our conductor, the presbyter, each of us offers up our sacrifice of praise.

When the presbyter prays, we take the words of the prayer into our hearts and offer them up to the King along with the presbyter, making our agreement to the words by saying “amen” to them – so be it.

When the choir sings, we don’t judge their quality, whether good or poor, but rather we do our best to sing the words up to the King. He doesn’t care whether we are tone deaf or operatic in our voice, but He listens to the tone of our soul.

So, we must prepare our souls for the ‘symphony’ of the Divine Liturgy. Each day we must practice so as to offer up the very best to our King. We ‘tune’ our souls by being partakers of the divine nature. We become partakers of the divine nature by obeying the commandments of God and entering into the Sacraments of the Church and her teachings.