A few days ago, I was preparing an Evensong post for Unapologetically Episcopalian and discovered a nice recording of the William Harris anthem, Faire is the Heaven, performed by the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buffalo, NY. I found an email address for the Organist/Choirmaster there and sent him a brief notice that we were featuring his choir that evening. Just as I hit the "send" button, John Linker, our own Organist/Choirmaster, stepped into my office. I told him I had just sent a note to one of his colleagues at the Episcopal Cathedral in Buffalo.
John said, "Oh, Jonathan Scarozza! Give him my regards. You know, he used to sing here." What a coincidence.
The following day, I received a telephone call from Jonathan who said, "I want to tell you something about the place where you are." I was touched by what he had to say and believe you will be too. He was kind enough to put it in writing and send for me to share.
"While living in Lexington, and studying at the University of Kentucky, I had many transformative experiences.
"In my first year in Lexington, I sang in the choir at Christ Church Cathedral. Having sung in cathedral choirs starting at the age of 7, I was nearing a time needed for a significant break from church commitment and attendance. For two or so years, I lived the simpler life of hanging out late on Saturday nights, and sleeping in on Sunday mornings.
"A life changing transformative moment for me came when Bob Burton, then organist at Good Shepherd, invited me into his choral program, put me to work, supported and nurtured my talents, and brought me back to the Episcopal Church and church music. For this I am truly grateful.
"My time at Good Shepherd felt wholesome, loving, and spiritual. There is something special and holy in the stones at Good Shepherd, and this I will never forget to appreciate. Thank you all."
Jonathan is one who returned to express gratitude. How many others might there be? I am reminded not only of the Parable of the sower, seed, and soil, but also of some words of Robert Schuller: "Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed." Seeds planted in the heart of one young man through the ministry of music at Good Shepherd took root in receptive soil and are now bearing good fruit, bringing about the transformation of other lives. How could you ever quantify that investment? How many other stories might there be that can be traced back to "something special and holy" at The Church of the Good Shepherd?
Here's an example of the musical leadership of Jonathan Scarozza. Enjoy it and give thanks to God who continues to inspire musicians everywhere to proclaim the wonders of God's love!
O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
- Book of Common Prayer, Page 819