This morning we dedicated our organ for the service of God's praise and for the creation of beauty in the world. This afternoon, we will share in the dedicatory concert of this same organ. It is the opinion of many that the organ is an instrument whose time has come and gone, much like the lute and the lyre (though guitars are their successors).
This new organ, about which I've opined before, is an instrument that is able to support every musical form from Bach to Gospel. It has the sound of a German Bach organ and it can also make available the sound of the Hammond B3, which is so prominent in gospel and rock music. But that's not the point I'd like to make -- that's the technical side. What I want to lift up is the gift of music to the healing of the world. Beauty is something that the church has to offer the world, and music and the arts both contribute to this beauty.
The questions then are -- What is beauty? What role does beauty have in the mission of God and the mission of the church? What role does beauty play in the kingdom of God? These are not easy questions to answer. Some will raise the question of how resources are used. This is a proper question. What kind of good could have been accomplished with the money spent for the organ -- or for that matter the sound system or video system in other churches. What about buildings themselves? And yet . . .
So, as you ponder the question of beauty and music as a gift of God, let me share a litany written by Sharlande Sledge, a Baptist Pastor and writer. It is entitled: "Music"
A psalm of praise we write for you,
O God of New Life,
who creates music in us we cannot contain.
A psalm of delight we write for you,
O God of Welcoming Presence,
whose hospitality invites us to linger at the table.
A psalm of gratitude we write for you,
O God of Transforming Promise,
who shapes miracles from words of hope.
A psalm of rejoicing we write for you,
O God of Eternal Love,
who embraces us in the circle
of creation, redemption, and resurrection.
Composer of Wonder,
make us living psalms of praise.*
*Sharlande Sledge, Prayers and Litanies for the Christian Seasons, (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 1999), p. 78.