AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.
A 3-Minute Read
by Christion Murphy
Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace…
Tuning is delicate business. As a little girl I loved to watch Cecil, our piano tuner. He’d strike the tuning fork and make almost imperceptible adjustments. Sometimes it would take hours to get our upright back in tune after those humid Texas summers, and he would often need to return a few weeks later. The piano strings just wouldn’t hold their new tension, preferring their old, familiar tautness. But under his skilled hand, they would eventually produce the sweetest music.
I thought about this as Jordan challenged us to bring our own lives in tune with the song of the Holy Spirit. Where was I off-key? Which notes, despite deliberate adjustment, had a difficult time holding their pitch?
My father, who was a pianist with nearly perfect pitch, had a distinctive fidget when he heard a note that was too sharp or flat. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit his ear. An instrument had to produce a real “clunker” before I would wince. But watching that fidget sharpened my hearing. With time and intention, taking my cues from my father, my ear began to pick up the subtle differences. Watching my father was tuning my ear to a new way of hearing.
For me to recognize where I am off-key in my own spiritual life, I need a new way of hearing. That “miracle hearing” of Pentecost. These days we are experiencing the world’s full-throated dissonance in every area of our lives. The “paranoid loneliness,” “brutal temper,” “divided homes and divided lives” (Galatians 5:19-21, MSG), which Paul describes as the life of the world. Some days the banging is so loud I find it difficult to hear the sweet, subtle music of the Holy Spirit.
Yet just as watching my own father trained my musical ear, keeping my eyes on Jesus and studying his ways (Hebrews 12:2) trains my spiritual ear. When I watch him and his life of love, I begin to hear not just the obvious “clunkers” in my own life but also those subtle notes that are too comfortably in tune with the world and aren’t holding pitch with the Spirit. Notes of pride, selfishness. Notes that make me wince. But I also hear his quiet love sung over me (Zephaniah 3:17). I hear his grace.
So as you consider how you will respond to the invitation to put your life in tune with the Spirit’s melody, look to Jesus. Turn down the volume on the world’s noise and breathe in the peace of Christ. The Holy Spirit will meet you there, gently and lovingly, tuning your heart to produce music so beautiful and tender that the world will respond, “I don’t recognize that song, but would you sing it again?”