In his weekly newsletter last week, Bill Kristol shared this story from the world of opera: “Puccini died on Nov. 29, 1924; when news of his death reached Rome during a performance of La Bohème, the opera was halted, and the orchestra immediately played instead Chopin’s Funeral March.

Turandot was at that point unfinished—though it was soon completed by Franco Alfano—and that complete version is the one everyone’s heard for 90 years. However, at the first performance of Turandot in Milan on April 25, 1926, conducted by the great Arturo Toscanini, Toscanini ended the performance in the middle of Act 3, laying down his baton and announcing to the audience, ‘Here the Maestro laid down his pen.’”

At some point in your life and mine, unless the Lord returns, we will lay down our pens. At that point, some other person will pick up the pen and continue the work we began. Then again, did we begin it, or did we pick up the pen and continue what was begun by one who came before us?

We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. It is encouraging to remember we stand in line with a great cloud of witnesses, and there will be those who come behind us to take up the pen we lay down. All of us draw any strength we have from the One who has called us to the task.

So pastor, remember you are not in this alone!

Michael Duduit
Follow on Twitter @MichaelDuduit

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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