Distant Rumble

It’s hard to find a church these days that has an organ in its sanctuary. I miss that sound sometimes.

Forty years ago, however, every church had an organ of some kind. Some were the big pipe organs but most of them were small electronic ones. It was with this kind of organ that our first Sunday at a church in Kentucky (while Dennis was in seminary) that we experienced something quite unique – both to the organ and to the place where the church sat.

The church was just outside the gates of Fort Knox.

That first Sunday morning in the middle of one of the hymns, the organ came out with an ungodly sound. (I know in church it’s not appropriate to call anything ungodly, but this was.) It seemed that every time the organist would play a low E flat on the pedal board, we would hear what sounded like a sack full of moody cats fighting to get out. But what was even more unusual is that no one in the congregation seemed to notice or care. How could they not hear that? And even worse why were they ignoring it?

Anyway, after the service Dennis asked the organist about it. She simply shrugged and reached down to the pedal board, lifted the pedal that was hanging loose, and replaced it to its proper position. She explained. “When there’s artillery practice at Fort Knox the rumble creates some kind of tone that affects my low E flat – no other note seems to be affected.” She said that usually she checks the pedal board before each service but for some reason she hadn’t noticed its displacement that morning.

The distant rumble of military artillery created disharmony on the organ.

During this time of year when we celebrate our nation’s birthday, we remember the rumble of artillery that exposed the ongoing disharmony that our country had with its British owners. If a peaceful end to this discord could have been accomplished, I believe that we would have preferred it over the loss of life and destruction of property.  However, it was not to be.

For almost eight years and after thousands of deaths on both sides of the conflict, independence was ours!

With an organ there is unison and there is harmony – both beautiful in their own ways. However, when a distant rumble turns either of these things into discord, it’s time to repair what’s broken. That’s the way it is in America. Unity or harmony – both imply beauty and both require being cautious of the distant rumbles that can destroy our beautiful peace!

Happy birthday, America!




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