On Dying Arts and the Art of Dying

“Do churches even still have organs?” asked a woman yesterday when I told her about my job.

I was unsurprised by her incredulity, for I am often struck that the work I do for a living is a dying art. My life, it seems, as an organist and writer, centers around such “dying” arts.

The work I do for a living is a dying art.

Culture and, I fear, the contemporary Church, seem to strive after the “living” arts of the day. I wonder, though, will these prove lasting? Will bright technics, catchy mnemonics, and constant stimulation endure in the way that the supposedly “dying” arts have? Will “me-focused” lyrics, prosperity preaching, and comfort-curated churches create the lasting life that dying to self surely shall?

The practices of traditional worship, orthodox teaching, and Gospel-oriented ministry may be dying in the eyes of the masses, but they are alive and well among those who perceive and pursue the narrow road, those who know that Christianity itself is a dying art. Or, rather, Christianity (not unlike classical philosophy) teaches the art of dying well.

Of dying to self in order to live for others.

Of dying to culture to live for the Kingdom.

Of dying to gratification to live for gratitude.

Most of all, Christianity is about the dying Savior. Death could not hold Him and, through His death and resurrection, we find enduring life. In this, we learn to die to ourselves. In this, even our “dying” arts are renewed with hope.

The old hymns may not be the most popular worship choice, just as the organ and a choir may not pose the most practical instrumentation anymore. However, the time-tested hymns may contribute to lasting formation, the bellows of the organ remain a testament to the powerful breath of God, and the plurality-in-unity of a choir sounds forth the communion of the Church.

Humble and truthful preaching may be less affirming than culture demands, but it is infinitely more assuring, for it reveals the steadfast heart of the Lord. Such preaching may draw smaller crowds, but it remains living and active and, indeed, supremely life-giving!

Gospel-focused ministry, too, may not be as alluring as production value and extravagant events, and yet this is what truly has the power to soften hearts and change lives. A congregational heart for conviction, repentance, forgiveness, and charity will forever be more impactful than a church set on engaging the world on its own terms.

These dying arts may curb the Church against becoming merely a mirror to contemporary culture.

In a similar yet far greater way, the dying Lord saves us from being an image of anything less than our Creator.

Let us immerse ourselves, then, in Christ’s death and resurrection. In doing so, we might practice the art of dying well which, by grace, becomes a fountain of the Living Well.

3 comments

  1. I’m sure this is not how comments are to be done…not meant to be this long, etc. but after a while I just have to speak…

    Is anyone out there listening?!
    …the old man is…
    To “On Dying Arts and the Art of Dying”…AMEN!…and again AMEN! As an old friend I had would have said, “That’ll preach!”…thank you for putting into words what many of us long to share…a GREAT example of speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)

    Next, “On A Couplet for Couples”…
    CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a great picture accompanying the blog entry!
    I have not the words to adequately express how happy and excited I am for you! …and as to “A Lifelong Engagement”…if he loved you enough to propose and you loved him enough to say an everlasting’yes’, there’s nothing wrong with a short engagement…now I have two people in Arizona to pray for!

    I read all of your entries…always know that I am there listening, enjoying, sharing in your sharing your heart and praying for you…keep-on-keeping on…our God is sovereign!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Bob,

      Your readership continues to be a huge blessing to me! Thank you so much for your specific feedback and scriptural encouragement.

      Thank you also for your congratulations and prayers! My fiancé (who also works in ministry) and I appreciate them so much. I am so grateful to our Lord that you found my blog and hope it continues to provide you joy and fellowship.

      Joyfully,
      Ryanne

      Like

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