A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dave's Deep Thoughts - A "Grand" Birthday

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Most people wish for a happy birthday.
I would have to call my 2014 birthday grand.
Baby, was it grand!

It was 1979 when I graduated with a music degree
from undergraduate school.
When I returned to my parent’s home after graduation,
there in the family room was a brand new studio piano complete with a bow.

It wasn’t just any piano…
It was a piano of one of my favorite brands.
It was an amazing graduation gift,
one that would do me well for many years to come.

It was also an extravagant gift.
My parents were of modest means.
We were a farming family with 4 children.
This gift was a budget buster.

It was also a well thought out gift.
I did not normally have conversations with my parents
regarding piano brands.
But they did their research.
With the help of my high school piano teacher,
they purchased a piano that I would have picked.

I remember my parents saying,
We know it’s not a grand piano,
but we hope this will do until you are able to get one.”
Typical response from parents who wanted the best for their children.

For 35 years, that piano has followed me to many different places.
It has been used in many recitals,
in teaching many private lessons,
and in countless hours of personal pleasure.
It has served me well.

Now that both parents have left this life,
it has been a constant reminder of the love they had for me.

Last week, I received a letter from a local college.
They were having a piano sale.
All pianos in their music department needed to be sold.
All less than one year old.
All at very favorable prices.
And they were the same brand that I loved.
I was being invited to their private sale.

On a whim and
remembering my parent’s comment from 35 years ago,
I decided to check it out.

The pianos had been moved to the instrumental hall.
The school had 57 pianos to sell.

I was about to celebrate my 57th birthday the next day,
and I was born in 1957.

Suddenly, it didn’t seem like a whim any more.
I felt my parent’s presence with me in the instrumental hall,
much like I did 35 years ago in the family room after graduation.
Within minutes, 52 pianos were eliminated from consideration.
5 pianos remained.

I played all types of pieces to test the instruments…..
Bach Inventions, Brahms Rhapsodies, Debussy Arabesques,
Mozart Sonatas…….even some Joplin Ragtime.

An hour later,
(if I had looked at my watch, it probably would have had been exactly 57 minutes)
I knew which piano was to be mine.

I realize that I have been blessed with the type of parents that I had.
I had parents that disciplined me,
that raised me to appreciate what I had been given,
that taught me to value people more than things,
and to love God more than this world.

Not everyone is given that.
When you are given parents like that,
you realize that their influence is just as great,
if not greater when they are gone.

In their absence,
I have daily sensed their presence even more in my life.

And so, on my 57th birthday,
the piano movers brought a baby grand,
complete with a birthday bow, into my home.

Because of my parents
my home is even more filled with music and joy.

I believe that is how God intends it to be.
It is not His intention to abandon us,
nor to leave us to figure life out on our own,
nor to leave us without His joy and peace.

We have been given the written Word,
we have been given the incarnate Word in Jesus,
and we have been given the indwelling Word in the Holy Spirit….

These things I have spoken to you, While I am still with you.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send
in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance
all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
                                                                           John 14:25-26

What is true for all who claim Him…….

is that no one is left bereft of love,
no one is abandoned,
no one is left to wander through life alone,
no one is left without peace,
and no one is left without the music of life.

No one.

And for the believer,
that is a grandest gift of all,
complete with the biggest bow.

Oh, the last two digits in the cost of the piano…

57 of course.

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