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

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Look Up, Music Man!

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.

When the parade passes by,
would someone please point the bass drummer
in the right direction?

During the summer,
we staged the musical, The Music Man.
As part of our publicity for the show,
the cast, crew, and staff formed a marching band for the town parade.

Since I had been a drummer in high school,
I found myself in the percussion section,
and by the luck of the draw,
I ended up with a bass drum in my hands.

Now I don’t dislike the bass drum.
It is one of the most important instruments
in a marching band.
It keeps the beat
thus keeping the entire group together while marching.

But every percussionist will tell you
that it is the snare drum
that is to be envied.

The snare drum fits conveniently in front of the body
whereas the bass drum awkwardly juts out
and puts considerable strain on the back.
It’s as close to a pregnancy experience
that I will ever come.

Although my  high school days are well into my rearview  mirror,
it seemed like it would be fun to
recreate some of those marching band memories.

That was before they dropped me, my bass drum,
and my fellow marchers off at the bottom of the hill……
that would be the enormous hill where the parade formed.

Not that I am complaining…….
but carrying a bass drum up a gigantic hill in the summertime
is like running a race while carrying a watermelon.

By the time I reached the top of the hill,
my heart rate was the equivalent of
a high intensity workout video.

As I was gasping for breath,
I gazed at my empty 20 ounce water bottle
and sadly wondered why I hadn’t opted
for the 32 ouncer that was chilling in my refrigerator.

Then the whistle blew.

That would be the whistle to tell the band to form line.
Between gasps, I quickly reached for the harness
to strap me into the monster drum.

As I  snapped the last buckle
I realized that beyond my hyperventilating and overheating,
I was in serious trouble.

The bass drum was mounted too high.
I couldn’t see anything in front of me except the drum.

There was no time.
The band was moving onto Main Street.
I was marching blind..

To make matters worse,
I couldn’t hear the drum major’s whistle,
which meant I had no idea when the band needed to come to a halt.

This was made painfully evident
to the snare drummer in front of me
as I bullishly plowed into him on more than one occasion.
You can only apologize so often……

Since I couldn’t see the ground,
and I couldn’t see in front of me,
I only had one option……
I looked up.

By doing so, I was able to see the electric power lines
that lined the streets.
By using them as a guide,
I stood a much better chance that I wouldn’t careen into the crowd
and maim small children who were scrambling for candy.

This worked well until we had to turn a corner.
Another apology to the snare drummer
who after this latest assault,
was thinking about using his sticks for an entirely different purpose.

It’s not easy marching through a parade blindly.
It’s not easy marching through life blindly either,
never knowing what’s around the next corner,
never quite sure when the next whistle will  blow.

Sometimes people leave us.
Sometimes we get a pink slip.
Sometimes we don’t make it to our destination safely.
Sometimes we get a diagnosis we don’t want.

Even though we can’t see the future,
it doesn’t relegate us to spiritual blindness.
It is in fact, trusting through what we can’t see,
that we develop our spiritual vision.

How do we start?

It’s never a bad idea to look up.
Look up and trust that even though
we don’t know where the next step is,
we know that we are headed in the right direction.

I made it to the end of the parade.

I did so without seriously impairing anyone
and without running into any telephone poles.

I couldn’t have done it without looking up.
I highly recommend it.

As for re-living high school days……
well, that’s another story.

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With Him at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.”
                                                 Psalm 16:8

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