Years ago, when my family and I moved into the small house we bought with our savings (where we still are, till the Lord calls us to our real home), we combed the village for a church. We found one—a warehouse lean-to. The sign said “Gospel Church” so we decided it was going to be our spiritual home.
On our first Sunday in this small church, with no more than a dozen people (including children), my eyes were riveted to the old piano in the corner, which nobody played. We sang all the hymns a cappella.
The pastor later asked if I could play the piano; that was my first ministry in the church.
I’d practice at home the hymns to be sung the next worship service and would play that piano Sunday after Sunday for years and years.
But change came into churches and ours was not spared.
As our building structure and membership grew, the singing switched to gospel songs. Then with the energetic youth came their guitars, drums, cymbals, beat box, and yes, an electronic keyboard—minus the piano, which has grown even older like I have.
Now, hymns would occasionally be sung, but accompanied by the musical instruments that make people clap their hands and sway their arms.
One day last month, the old piano was wrapped in a cloth, a sure sign that it will no longer be played, ever.
Call me maudlin, but I sort of felt nostalgic. Not because I no longer played it, but because of what it symbolizes—the changes that have happened in Sunday worship. My three sons and their contemporaries may no longer remember all the hymns we used to sing, but I do.
Being a student of the Word and believer of Grace, I know that worship is not about format or musical instruments, or outside trimmings. It’s about what’s in our heart, about worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.
Yet that piano, a reminder of what once was, in its current state, somehow tugs at the heart.
“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:1-3 (KJV)