The Organist

A couple years ago I did a funeral for a family from our church.

They lost the mother and matriarch of their family.

They chose to have a small memorial service in a local funeral home near where their mother lived.

I met with the family and put together an order of service that would help the family remember and honor her the way they wished.

Then came the day of the service.

With the family gathering inside the funeral home chapel I met with the director who gave me the rundown on how everything would work.

The director went through the order of service detailing where he would stand, what he would say, and when he would hand the whole thing off to me.

Everything seemed standard except the part when he said, “And this is Steve, he will be your organist.”

I didn’t even know I was going to have an organist let alone if I needed or wanted one.

But there was Steve.

I said hello and that was clearly the wrong thing to say because it opened the door for a long one-way conversation I wasn’t really prepared for.

Steve the organist was proud of his title.

He had majored in Music at Pacific Lutheran University with a concentration in Organ Performance…

…in 1973.

He went on to question whether the church I worked for even had an organ.

I stupidly replied that our church had a keyboard that made various organ sounds.

After a 10-minute (or 30 second) lecture on why that wasn’t the same thing as an actual organ and how it was a shame that, “At PLU nobody is majoring in Organ Performance these days,” our conversation reached a critical point.

I asked him if the keyboard sound of an organ playing was the same as an actual organ.

Steve the Organist said, “No, actually the keyboard sounds better than the real thing.”

Surprised, I asked him to explain why it concerned him so much that nobody knew how to play the organ anymore.

His face fell as he tried to come up with words to support his concern. Ultimately he came back around to how we are changing too much, too quickly and how it frustrated him.

My heart went out to Steve.

I don’t really have any firm opinions about the organ.

I like the way it sounds in some songs and yet every time I hear it I’m pretty sure it’s a synthesized sound.

My concern is for people like Steve.

He feared too much change would lead to an extinction of his profession, passion and way of life.

Steve was going to be fine. Steve is talented enough to play other instruments. He mentioned how he was a member of two musical groups neither of which had an organ.

Steve was willing to change in other parts of his life, but didn’t want the organ thing to change.

Most of us are like that when it comes to change.

We’re for it as long as it doesn’t involve us changing.

We love and enjoy the benefit of progress, but we don’t like the change that’s involved in getting there.

It’s as if progress and change are traveling companions.

You can’t really have one without the other.

We’d love to welcome progress into our home and force change to wait outside in the cold, but we can’t.

They’re joined at the hip. They’re inseparable. They go together.

You can’t have one without the other.

Steve loved progress, but hated change.

Sometimes my thinking gets stuck there too.

My personal goal is to not fear change, but embrace it.

Change brings progress along with other things.

At times pain and heartache come with change.

When losing weight it brings hunger pains and more time in the gym.

No matter what, I choose to believe God and take him at his word:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8.28, NLT)

Even when I can’t see it or don’t understand it.

I choose to believe God has good plans for me.

And by the way, if you’re looking to major in Music with a concentration in Organ Performance it’s still available.

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