A Tool for Worship

30 Jun A Tool for Worship

My church is getting a new organ. It’s not a “new-new” organ, but it’s new to us. Another church in our area is being torn down to make way for affordable housing. That church’s congregation will move back in to the new high rise once it is built, but there won’t be room for their organ, so it is finding a new home here at Calvary.

We’ve known for a couple of years that Calvary’s organ was about to bite the dust. “Metal fatigue” was the official diagnosis—no cure, certainly fatal. That organ had served this congregation for 40 years, so I guess it was entitled to be fatigued. But, I was still peeved over it. New organs are expensive. Cha-ching, cha-ching was all I could hear. Dollar signs woke me up at night, taunting me. $$$$$!!!!!

For a good 18 months I wasn’t sure we needed another organ. Was this really a faithful way to spend God’s money? Was it in keeping with our call as Kingdom people? Was it necessary to our life and ministry? Would it help us reach out to our neighbors and community? These were the kinds of questions with which I wrestled. In church “lingo” discernment is what we call this process of asking questions, praying, reflecting and listening.

The context of the contemporary church weighed heavily on me as I prayed about and tried to discern how God was speaking about our future. So many churches of all denominations are closing their doors. Many others are re-imagining ministry in creative ways never dreamed of a generation ago. Might this be that kind of opportunity for Calvary? I remained disquieted. None of the options felt right. God’s leading wasn’t yet clear. The months rolled by, and I kept praying.

When we became aware of the availability of a hybrid pipe organ that needed a new home, I can’t explain it, but I just knew: that’s our organ. I had not laid eyes on it or more importantly, heard it, but somehow I knew anyway. Sure enough, step by step, the doors began to open and the process began to unfold. Last Tuesday was “Moving Day” and now our new organ is in the building—it’s in about a thousand pieces (literally), but it’s here. There is a lot of work ahead before we will hear any sound wafting out of those pipes, but hopefully by the autumn, we’ll experience the results of our significant investment in sweat equity and money.

I continue to pray, reflect and discern what all of this means for us, and this is what I have come to believe so far: first, this organ is an instrument, a tool, a means of worship. At Calvary we are intentional and deliberate about making God the focus of everything we do. We want to be excellent in worship because we believe it honors God to give our best effort, but we are never about performance. In ways we can’t imagine right now, I believe this new organ will play a vital role in our worship, opening us to experience God in moving, challenging, life-changing ways. Music is a powerful communicator, so I’m eager to see how God speaks to us through this new instrument.

Second, I have come to understand this renovation project as a matter of faith. This church has been blessed over its 68 years of ministry with people who have faithfully “carried the baton” so that Calvary could be a place and a people of hope, grace and love to our neighbors. For that to continue, every generation must do its part, must carry the baton faithfully during their leg of the journey.   There was a time when the men of the church met every Saturday to transform a vast, empty, cinder-block basement into a functional space for teaching, fellowship and mission. They built walls, laid the floor, put in a ceiling, and wired the electricity, and we are still reaping the benefits half a century later. I’m told there was great camaraderie during those work parties, as well as great excitement because people felt God at work in their midst.

Now it’s our turn. By investing in this church we are making a profound faith statement: that we believe there will be vibrant worship, fellowship, mission and outreach taking place here a generation from now, and we want to do our part to pass the church to them in good shape both spiritually and physically. We, too, experienced a buzz of anticipation and excitement last week as the move of the organ became reality.   Someday soon its sounds will fill our ears, but the real joy will come as those sounds make God’s presence and love more tangible to each individual worshipper.

Yours for the Kingdom,


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