Surprised by Inanimate Objects as Guides
I sat poised for worship at Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte. The church is nearly one hundred years old. I found myself focusing on the marvelous interior design of wood, stone and high vaulted ceilings. I studied the incredible wood carvings, contemplating how they assisted me in worship. The detail of the sacred space was absolutely masterful, the kind I experienced in the cathedrals of Europe. I thought how precisely the stone was laid, giving me the impression they were ancient stones carved for the purpose, much as are the great edifices of Europe. These stones had to be planned and laid as a master puzzle by masons decades ago. I marveled at the craftsmanship.
It seemed as though the stone then yielded its hold on me to further observations of the wood and I recognized the blending and lending of themselves to form a cooperative effort. It lured me in to worship and adoration of the triune God. It was as though the stone and wood collectively were saying to me, “we’ve done all we can do to assist you in your worship. Now engage yourself and rest in peace as you connect and commune with your God.” In my spirit I responded much as Isaiah, “I saw the Lord …high and lifted up.” And then the Lord said, “Whom shall we send and who will go for us? In my heart I responded, “Here am I, send me.”
But there was more. I began to indulge in the sounds of beauty coming from the massive pipe organ. I was carried along, in this epiphany of God’s created objects, to understand how all creation displays the very One who made them. How could I not have noticed the stained glass with light illuminating the Apostles who seemed to lend their voices in the call to me? And what about the flowers, the fabrics of the clerical vestments, the banners, the carpet down the center isle, the symbols in procession of the cross and the enormous Bible, with the musicians’ contribution to vocal and instrumental expressions of majesty and praise?
The music then became the vehicle God used to bring it all together. The inanimate objects all lended their presence to the rhapsody that pointed me to Jesus, the great Pantocrator, the ruler of the universe. Without all these elements the sounds of the music would not be heard in their fullness. I was carried along as though floating in this palpable experience of worship. When the organist finished, the music faded and the overtones died. It left a lasting memory sustaining me and promising me another episode if I returned.
From week to week, the whole of the worship in that sacred space lingers in my memory, enticing me to do it again. This mixture of sight and sound, wafts through the air and settles on molecules of overtones drifting heavenward. I imagine them to be my post card of praise and worship to my Lord.
When I think of my experience in worship, Ps. 27:4 comes to mind. “One thing I have asked of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.”
It’s phenomenal how inanimate objects of God’s creation can guide the heart to worship the triune God. Praise and thanks be to God! Amen