Madness, Machines, and My Tribute

On Mondays, which I typically devote to worship planning, my usual companions are the birds and branches outside my office window. I close the door and tune into the quiet chirping and singing of my winged friends, and together we open the Word.

Of course, there are sometimes interruptions. Phones ring, voices carry, or a bird will try to fly through the window with a loud “THUD.” This past Monday was one of those days when I knew the birds and I would have company. Actually, the birds left me alone with the company that day. Work to the outside of the church building required loud machinery. I don’t know the proper names of any of the equipment I saw. There was a lift. There was the “BEEEEEEP… BEEEEP…. BEEEEP” of something in reverse. There was a pounding noise that sounded like a super drill trying to come through the ceiling.

I didn’t mind and remained focus on the sacred work. Twelve years of pastoring have taught me that sometimes you have to find the silence within because it’s hard to find complete silence without!

What did surprise me on Monday happened later in the afternoon. As “BEEP” and “POUND” and “WHOOSH” swirled around the building, from out of nowhere the sounds of Andràe Crouch’s “My Tribute” flowed from the organ. One of our musicians was practicing, and he had opened the pipes so wide that the sound reached my office. The sounds of construction collided with the melodies of composition.

The voices of a million angels
Cannot express my gratitude.
All that I am or every hope to be
I owe it all to Thee.
To God be the glory...
— "My Tribute" by Andráe Crouch

It would be easy to describe the construction as “noise.” It would be easy to focus on the loudness. It would be easy to become overstimulated by the sheer amount of sound in and around the building. It would be easy to describe the meeting of machinery with “My Tribute” as madness.

Yet everyday, noise and voices and activities surround us. We become distracted by opportunities and consumed by obligations. Our lives often occur amid the sounds of machinery outside and the chords of “My Tribute” inside. Do we allow the present noise to drown out our peace of thanksgiving? Do we become so focused on the short-term inconvenience of noise that we lose sight of the long-term good God is doing?

“My Tribute” begins with the prayer, “How can I say ‘thanks’ for the things you have done for me?” Thanksgiving is something we easily forget when we feel bombarded, surrounded, and overwhelmed. Thanksgiving is also the deep well from which we should draw when the noise increases. Thanksgiving gives us perspective because our eyes are off of us and onto Jesus Christ.

“My Tribute” is a message we must not confine to the silent hall of a cathedral on Sunday. It belongs in the noisy office. It belongs in the hectic car. It belongs in the stack of to-do lists and projects. It belongs in our hearts and on our lips.

This week, when all you can hear are the thuds, beeps, and whooshes of life, pause to listen for the organ’s chords of thanksgiving. Give thanks. And perhaps we’ll hear the voices of a million angels.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian