If you were in Sunday’s worship service you undoubtedly noticed a couple of the unplanned surprises in the service – one of which was that the organ lost power in the middle of a hymn (it’s fine now). This being Palm Sunday, a lot of effort was put into making the service meaningful and engaging. I always stress about about my part of a service being as good as it can be, especially on festival days. Likewise, I know how much work Brian and Alice and all of our musicians put into creating the best worship experience possible.
Of course sometimes, as we were reminded on Sunday, despite our efforts things do not go exactly as we might have planned. Don’t get me wrong, we still had a great service and I am glad nothing more serious was the cause of our disruption, but I can’t help reflecting on the lesson before us: Sunday’s service was paradigmatic of a much greater struggle we all face.
Despite our efforts, our aspirations, and our worry our work rarely goes unhindered. We face setbacks of all kinds. We have to repeat things we have already done, and we often don’t accomplish everything we set out to do. This is true in our day to day, our weeks, our years, and even our lifetimes. For this reason, Genesis in chapter three refers to work as “toil” and as “labor”. It was not meant to be difficult, yet it is, because like all things it rests under the curse of sin.
Nonetheless we can have great hope. Over the past 6 weeks I have highlighted in this email the work of some individuals at Calvary. If you have read their stories you have likely noticed that everyone I talked to has hinted at a sense of calling into the work they do. Our work is an important, even vital, part of our lives. It is good and right for us to feel “called” into our professions. In many ways the Bible shows that we are made for work. It is good for us, just as our work and service is also good for society at large and a blessing to those around us.
In our work we will face challenges. Referencing Genesis again, we are told that thistles and thorns will come up alongside our fruit. Nonetheless, as we continue to do our jobs, we will find joy. When we bring excellence and skill to the tasks at hand, we create beauty and we represent well the God who created us and has given us our abilities.
In rarefied moments we may even get to look back on a project completed, a job finished, or a song performed and realize that it was good – it came out even greater than we could have expected. We get a glimpse of how work was always meant to be. As I have shared before, John Coltrane hints at this in the liner notes of his masterpiece A Love Supreme:
This album is a humble offering to Him. An attempt to say “THANK YOU GOD” through our work, even as we do in our hearts and with our tongues. May He help and strengthen all [people] in every good endeavor.