Posted tagged ‘disharmony’

Playing Through The Wrong Keys To Find A Note Of Harmony

December 18, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 December 18, 2017

                  

Yesterday I drove out to the hamlet of Simla, Colorado for the children’s Christmas program at the Methodist Church, followed by speaking at First Baptist of Simla. I had been invited to attend the children’s program and told the invitee that I would try to make it. It was delightful as only a small town small church can be.

For the offertory two young girls, both around ten years of age, played a piano duet. Both were dressed in beautiful shiny attire, beaming with excitement and a bit of nervousness. They positioned the sheet music in front of them and then carefully took their seats on the bench. They each took a calming breath, placed their fingers on the keys, and one of the girls whispered “One, two, three, play.”

The first notes were uncertain and wavering. Five notes in to the song they glanced quickly at one another, offering mutual encouragement for the adventure.

And then there were the uneven notes, one earlier and one later in its sound…another wrong note beginning to be played but as quickly as it started the playing finger slipping to the right note next to it. The small congregation of twenty of so “hoped” them on, longing for the next played sounds to be the right notes.  It was two girls risking failure but hoping for discovery.

And then in the midst of the effort and searches suddenly a few notes of perfect harmony sounded! One of the girls looked at the other with an expression of surprised delight, as if she was saying “Did we just do that?”

A few moments later they synchronized the playing of their last keys and breathed a sigh of relief. The gathered faithful clapped in appreciation of the experience. Even though their offering of talents was a bit short of perfect it was sweet music to the souls of the saints. The young ladies looked out at the church and displayed smiles of satisfaction and finished business.

It reminded me of the church, sometimes struggling to find the harmony as the struggles of ministry surface. Wrong decisions made with the right intentions, right choices made with the wrong intentions…like two young girls seeking to work together to play beautiful music and often missing the notes.

And then, all of a sudden, moments of harmony surface in a ministry that is mostly uncoordinated. The moments bring smiles to the faces of the weary, peace to the spirit of the Body. Just when it seemed that a bond with Christ would never be discovered again it suddenly appeared.

Ministry is more often like a pair of ten year olds playing a piano duet than the rhythm  of a symphony. If it was always such sweet music it may not be appreciated nearly as much. Paul made note of it when he wrote in Romans 12 these words: “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those to mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with those of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:15-16)

There was no conceit sitting on the piano bench yesterday, just two young girls freed by the church to risk imperfect talents in the ministering to the saints. It was my closest connection with the Holy the whole day!

Harmony Church

January 8, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       January 8, 2016

                                   

I was leading a group of seniors in a study of 1 Peter yesterday. We were able to get through one verse in the ninety minutes together. The verse was 1 Peter 3:8. It says:

   “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit…”

Harmony! What is that? We made the point…several times…in our discussion that harmony does not mean uniformity. We are not cookie-cutter followers of Christ. We are all unique, complex and simple, confident and cautious, narrow-minded and totally open-minded. Diverse, that’s who we are. Thus, the challenge of harmony is understanding that the body of believers will not always be in agreement on such issues as brand of coffee to serve, dress style preferred, how quiet children should be in worship, and what songs get sung. The interesting thing is that it is those petty issues that so often cause the most conflict. Perhaps that says something about the spiritual depth of a congregation that such topics of division revolve around whether donuts or muffins should be served?

Harmony is a sign of a church that gets it. Disharmony makes the news. Harmony is newsworthy. Strong personalities are a constant challenge to harmony. It isn’t that people with strong personalities are evil, but must be reminded that harmony does not mean giving into their ideas, thoughts, and demands.

Harmony is often forfeited for the sake of progress. What progress is often gets written on a stats sheet, like the church is the religious version of the Oakland A’s in  Moneyball.  Progress is the chafing rub to harmony. It has a way of becoming exalted and worshiped at the expense of all else.

Peter’s point to those he was writing to then, and to us now, is that those who are not of the church…are not on that faith journey with Christ, look with suspicious interest at the church. Why would these people gather on a Sunday morning week after week? What do they get out of it? What does it mean? What draws them together? Is there emotional support for those who are hurting, and relational stability for those who are lonely?

A lot of questions! And the harmony of the body of believers communicates that this thing we call a journey with Christ is real, it is authentic, it isn’t some kind of put-on!

Since most of the lives of Christ-followers is spent separate from one another, doing our own things, going about our own business, lack of familiarity with one another limits the hold of harmony. Crossing paths for a few moments at a worship service makes us acquaintances, but detours around harmony.

Harmony in the church is like a surfer trying to stay upright on the board as the waves push him forward. Harmony is wonderful, and yet that next wave…that next crisis…had the potential to send things crashing down.

In a world that seems to love to fight, harmony seems like the uncle who often gets forgotten to be invited to the party. And yet, harmony is a sign of a church that gets it!