This is What Stewardship Looks Like
With some help from C. S Lewis’ article, “Good Work and Good Works,” found in his collection entitled Screwtape Proposes a Toast (1998), let me describe how the restoration of damaged organ pipes illustrates stewardship.
Let’s start with Lewis’ definition of and distinction between Good Work and Good Works. Good work is a product of expertise that is both good and worth doing. For example, our 1998 Schantz pipe organ is the work product of expert organ builders. They crafted an instrument out of wood, metals, and numerous electronic and digital connections to produce, what remains today, one of Pittsburgh’s finest pipe organs. Schantz workers were proud of the beauty in their work and they felt that it was worth doing.
In good work, things are made to delight others and our pipe organ is a product of expert craftsmanship which we certainly delight in. But in every work of art, there follows a benign, built-in obsolescence. The materials in craftsmanship will naturally decline over time. Upkeep and updating is needed.
Organ pipes need periodic tuning and cleaning. The weight of pipe work can eventually bend the pipes, as seen in the photo of our Tuba organ pipes that will be repaired. In that repair, the metallic composition of the tuba pipe will be strengthened. Like a computer, the solid state component parts of our organ approach obsolescence. Yes, eventually we will need a new “hard drive.”
All this calls for stewardship; a habit of upkeep that creates love, out of habit. The delight that we hear in our Schantz organ supports our singing and the soothing and majestic sounds in organ repertoire stirs our souls. This summarizes Lewis’ definition of good works: acts that help sustain the worth of our parish ministries. These acts of giving and love prevent good work from becoming worthless. In stewardship we remember what good work is and our giving preserves that goodness. Making stewardship a habit of mind creates an agape love for giving.
Sometime this Fall, our tuba pipe work will be restored and I will play organ works that feature the tuba organ stop. Thank you for your love of good work which produces your good works that sustain St. Paul’s ministry of music.