The Sermon of Music

I went to church this week and received a blessing as the pastor talked about purity. Each week for the past three weeks he’s elaborated on one of the thoughts included in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from the 5th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

These sermons are thought provoking and channel my thoughts into areas that refresh the soul as I contemplate the life of Jesus that serves as a perfect model for you and me.

Purity is something we all admire and is also something that causes us to struggle from time to time. Our human weaknesses and hormonal imbalances along with the constant influences from the advertising on TV and magazines bombard us with ideas and concepts directly opposed to a humble Christian life of serving others.

As the sermon ended we were ushered into a song called “Whiter than snow” that focused our attention on the need to be cleansed and on the willingness of God to wash us with His righteousness.

The sermon and the closing hymn were a cleansing experience, and as the closing prayer was spoken by the pastor I realized how vulnerable I am to impure thoughts, and how delicate is my spiritual condition. I felt the need for more prayer to seek the power of God to be drawn higher and to live above this level of temptation that desensitizes the soul.

We then sat down for the postlude.

The music began with sounds appropriate for reflection as the guest organist moved from one set of keys to another creating an interplay of sounds of authority for a few measures followed by sounds of fragility. One moment my mind was directed to the unchangeable, majestic power of God and the next to my weak vacillating character that had just been cleansed. One moment to my clumsy attempts at life followed by the still, small voice of God.

The Music reinforced the sermon on purity as it clarified in my mind the need for God to be included in every dialogue. A need for God to have a say in each phrase of life.

And then began the Toccata and things changed.

The soft and delicate strains from flute, and clarinet pipes was replaced with horns, and 16 and 32 foot pipes as the organist’s hands morphed from elegant devices of peace, depressing the keys with such soft and light movement into monstrous tools of war intended to subdue the instrument of sound that resisted compliance.

The atmosphere changed as heavy fingers became objects of oppression, demanding more and more sound, forcing the organ to respond with note after note of power with increasing decibels. Additional pipes were brought into play as organ stops were opened. Intricate and balanced harmonies were left behind. Interplay between the various organ manuals was replaced by blasts of power as the king of instruments lived up to its reputation by delivering note upon note of authority as if I was standing before the judge of the universe and my sordid record was placed before me.