Thursday, September 12, 2013
I recently watched again one of my favorite documentaries. It involves the Steinway Piano Company, and chronicles the yearlong process of building one of their concert grand pianos. From selection of the wood to the final tuning, we see "L1037" as master craftsman ply their art and trade to produce an instrument of unsurpassed aural and visual beauty (for a mere $100,000 or so, you can enjoy one of these jewels in your living room! For $200,000, you can have one in your den also!).
Steinway may be the last piano manufacturer that, for all practical purposes, constructs everything by hand. Much technical knowledge is required, of course, but no school exists where a new Steinway employee can learn the process. Everything is passed down from one generation of craftsmen to the next. Moreover, there's much "art" in the building of the piano, as certain aspects of the construction require an intuitive gift just as much as knowledge and skill. "Every one of our pianos has its own voice" said one of those artisan/technicians, referring to the human touch that crafts the piano, along with technical principles of design and construction. Finally, the tuning process requires a month, and is accomplished by ear. This contrasts with most companies that rely on computers to effect perfect pitch and a "perfect" relationship of note to note, but which lack the mysterious, but beautiful voicing a gifted human tuner can create.
The documentary always reminds me of the art, craft, and skill of Another. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10). Our Heavenly Father initiates a spiritual process in all who trust in the Lord Jesus, a masterpiece of wisdom, power, and love that culminates in our being like our Savior. "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). The process requires so much more than we can ever imagine. Indeed, we are much unlikeChrist when we first believe. The earthly traits and disposition of our forefather Adam constitute us as fleshly in our original birth. Salvation births a new and spiritual person, but Christlikeness in character, nature, and way requires a long molding and melding accomplished by a Hand of wondrous craft, skill, and art.
The "art" fascinates me the most. We are all so different, and God's intentions for each of us involve a finished product like His Son. Nevertheless, we all possess unique spiritual and moral facets through which the light of Christ shines in a beautifully singular way. It would be one thing to fashion us in such a manner that Christ is uniformly established in us. It is quite another to birth, rear, and perfect a Paul who is like, but unlike Peter, or a Mary, like but unlike Martha, or a Glen like his brethren, but strangely and inexplicably unlike them! (at this time, I'd bow and give thanks for that, if I were you...). This requires an artist, that is, someone technically skilled, but who infuses into his medium and finished product a "something" the viewer or listener can perceive and enjoy, but can't quite understand or explain.
I had an opportunity to play a Steinway years ago, in the days when I moved pianos. However, the instrument belonged to a woman who had survived the Holocaust in Auschwitz. Age and health issues prevented her from playing anymore, and I just didn't feel right touching the keys dear to her, but which she could no longer enjoy. I was honored to simply to move the piano for her. In contrast, our Heavenly Father will eternally enjoy the fruit of His artistry, labor, and the sacrifice made by His Son for the purpose of "bringing many sons unto glory" (Hebrews 2:10). We are His workmanship, and in this day and this moment, we can be sure that He works for the sublime purpose that will one day be perfectly fulfilled in all His trusting sons and daughters...
"Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us."
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