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

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - The McFly Wedding Singer

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.

The scene was elegant.

The scent of the flowers enveloped the sanctuary.
The music of the  string quartet welcomed all guests.
Lit candles adorned every window
Ladies wore beautiful spring dresses…..
men came in suits.

I love weddings.
When I am not officiating a service,
I love to sing at weddings.

Weddings celebrate life, love, & family……
all that is good about the time that we have to spend on this earth.

There is an excitement that builds
as people come to a wedding……
excitement to see what the bride will be wearing,
excitement to see friends and family.
and yes, excitement to know that a good meal, dancing, and cake will follow.

I like to sing from memory at weddings.
It allows me to make more of an emotional contact
with the people who are listening.

In recent years,
I have noticed a lack of etiquette at some weddings.
Some people enter the sanctuary,
caring more about chatting with their neighbors in the pews
rather than quieting themselves in preparation for the service.

I can remember weddings
where people have talked incessantly during vocal solos.

Not this day.
This was going to be a beautiful service.
People entered quietly and respectfully.

I was excited about the music that was selected for the service.
Some wedding music is predictable and perfunctory.
The music that was selected for this service
was powerful and emotionally stirring.

The logistics for this wedding were somewhat unusual.
The piano was in the rear of the sanctuary.
It was a large room.
My accompanist was 70 feet from me
with 200 congregants in between.

No worries.

As I moved to the center of the chancel,
I took a moment to gaze at every portion of the sanctuary.
It’s a singer’s way of letting the audience know
that what they are about to hear is important.

Singers can tell if they are effectively expressing the song
by reading the body language of the audience.

As I began,
I could tell that the audience was engaged.

As I sang  “You are now flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone
I saw people lean over and whisper into their companion’s ear.

As I sang “two coming as two and leaving as one,”
people smiled at me.

I was connecting with them.
It’s what every singer longs for.

As the song ended,
I moved to the rear of the sanctuary to sit with the accompanist.
As I reached her, I said,
That went very well. Thank you!”

With one sentence,
the accompanist destroyed my day……..

Your fly is down.”

life goes like that.

You focus so much on all the details
and in the process,
you forget the simplest and often, most important things.

I have seen couples painstakingly
account for each detail of the wedding,
but forget to do the same for the marriage.

I have seen people come in their Sunday finest,
but forget to enter the sanctuary with a heart of worship.

I have seen people live their lives in the full busyness of religion,
but never find a relationship with the very God who formed them in their mother’s wombs.

we forget the simplest and most important things.

In the gospel of Mark,
the story is accounted of two sisters,
Mary and Martha, both dear friends of Jesus.

While at their house,
Martha is frantically trying to take care of all the details of a good host.
Meanwhile, Mary, is seated at the feet of Jesus, listening to His every word.

In the end,
Martha complains to Jesus that Mary should be helping her.
And Jesus, replies,
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;
but only a few things are necessary, really, only one, for Mary has chosen the good part,
which shall not be taken from her.”        (Luke 11:41-42)

I don’t think it is coincidence that this story immediately follows
the story of the Good Samaritan in the gospel.

I believe that Luke is trying to tell us
that we are to be about the work of helping and serving other people,
don’t interpret this to mean that one should
become so frantic, so over-committed,
so over-scheduled,
that service to others distracts one from
the ultimate reason for the service,
that is the Lord Jesus Himself.

This is not an easy lesson for a Type A personality like myself to hear.
But the two stories tell us that there is a balance in our lives for both.

God desires both thoughtful adoration and action in our lives.
Each one of these fuels the other.

As for me,
before I sing my grandest song the next time,
I will be sure to check twice.

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