Pastor’s Column – June 2024

Pastor’s Column – June 2024

“Austria-02877 – Augustinian Church Organ” by archer10 (Dennis) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Today, if you were to travel to Halberstadt Germany, and if you were to take a walk around town, and if you happened past St. Burchardi church, you would hear the hum of an organ playing a song that first began on September 5, 2001. Composer John Cage is noted to have instructed musicians to play “as slow as possible” at a conference in 1997, because an organ would sustain that note beautifully. The John Cage Organ Foundation Halberstadt took that as a challenge. Placing sandbags on the keys, training people to upkeep the instrument for an extended period of time, the song that began in 2001 is not set to finish its masterpiece until the year 2640. Yes, that is 639 years. No human being will hear it from start to finish. Many have traveled to listen to the song that is bigger than their own life. Many have found comfort, not only in the gentle hum, but in pondering the vastness of generations upon generations that will experience this same performance. It’s as if they are listening to it together. The song links them to those before and after.

At the Festival of Homiletics, a preacher used this image to combat what she called the “tyranny of fast.” She said we don’t really slow down to appreciate the world around us. Our society is addicted to being busy, and it has deteriorated our appreciation for life. The invitation to “slow down” is sacred. It allows us to savor this life, and marinate in the pervasive presence of God.

When was the last time you sat outside with no agenda? No book. No cellphone. No newspaper. Just you and the hungry birds gathering breakfast, or the frantic chipmunk ducking behind every rock and log. How long has it been since you sat down to dinner or restaurant, and actually allowed the flavor and texture of your food to overwhelm your senses? When was the last time you placed your hand over your heart, and felt it’s beating?

The “tyranny of fast,” is we miss the song that is playing, the hum of God’s grace inviting us deeper into relationship with God and all things. We miss God’s nudge to first act from a place love, and not from self-gain. We miss the cry of our neighbor in which Matthew 25 says is the very cry of Christ. We miss God’s presence which saturates each moment of our lives. God has not forsaken us, but it’s us that forsake God. We are too busy for God.

Until we slow down, we won’t experience the peace we long for. Until we slow down, God will feel distant from us. Until we slow down, we will be disconnected from God and God’s promises will feel like dreams and not reality.

Today, I invite you to choose one thing to do slow. Drink your coffee slow. Take a walk around the block, or even around your garden slowly. In your interactions with others, really listen to their words. You will notice in the slowness, beneath the surface of everything, God is. This is the God that was with your parents and grandparents. This is the God that was with each generation that has led to you. This is the God of the early church. This is the God of the disciples and the God of Mary. This is the God of Jesus whom he prayed to. This is the God of Job and Amos; The God of Rachel, Haggar, and Ruth; This is the God of Moses, Isaac, and Abraham; This is God the Creating One; This is the God of all those whom have yet been created.

Slow down. The kin-dom is on Earth, just as it is in Heaven. You are in it! Slow down.

Blessings for the journey,
Rev. Keith McDevitt