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

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dave's Deep Thoughts - Hard Hat Area

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.

Halloween is the night where things go bump in the night.
But what do we call the other 364 nights?

I embrace Halloween.
I know not everyone does.
For me, it’s a night to recognize
that we all have demons in our lives.

A wise pastor that I know once preached,
It is in confronting our demons that they lose their power.”

On October 31st,
many dress up in costumes,
some go in search of their favorite candies,
and others decorate their homes with jack o lanterns and cobwebs.
all to acknowledge that things come at us out of the darkness without warning.

Little did I expect it on August  3rd.
But that’s the way demons usually work.

I was playing in the orchestra for a musical.
It was opening night,
and we were confidently ready for an audience.

5 minutes into the show…………...power failure
No lights, no computers to run the show,
no electricity to power the orchestra….

The show stopped.
Fortunately 3 minutes later the power resumed 
before the audience could demand a refund.
The cast, crew and orchestra picked up where they left off.
No harm, no foul………or so I thought.

2 scenes later,
I realized that I needed to use the facilities.
I thought that I had enough time between songs to make an exit,
to do what I needed to do, and to return.

Except that I was thinking of the wrong scene.
I thought I had five minutes,
when really I only had one.

There is that disturbing moment when 
one is doing what one must  do,
while realizing that one should be doing something else.

Because the song began with only me playing,
I knew I was in trouble.

I made a mad scramble to get to the orchestra backstage.
It was as I was turning the last corner
that I slipped on the floor
and my head came crashing into the base of the door jamb.

If this had been the NFL, 
I would have had to leave the game for concussion protocol.
But theatre is tougher than that, and the show must always go on.

I bullied my way past the percussionist.
As he issued the down beat,
the conductor gave me the “where were you” look. 

While the other musicians were looking at notes,
I was seeing stars.
my stars aligned with the notes on the musical staff.

They say bad things come in threes.
I tend to believe that bad things come at us all the time
and we just group them in threes.

But tonight,
there was a third demon waiting to attack.

We got through the remainder of the first act without incident.
Act II ran smoothly…… that is until the finale.

Midway through the finale I felt something strike my head
and then I saw a flash of light.

As I waited for Jesus to usher me home,
a large metallic object hit the keys on the piano
striking keys that were never meant to be played on that downbeat.

There was a trombone slide laying across the piano keys.

The trombonist evidently had lost control,
(much as I had earlier while careening into a door jamb)
and his slide had launched from the upper level of the orchestra
as a projectile into my head thus rendering him unable to play,
and rendering me with a second cranial injury for the night.

That’s the problem with things that go bump in the night.
You don’t know that they are coming.

Each week I prepare a prayer list
Here are some of the demons that people, who I know and love, face each week….

marriages in crisis
families reeling from  suicide
a doctor’s visit that ends with the word, cancer
a political election that seems to have no satisfactory conclusion
earthquakes  that cause entire communities to crumble
drugs that are available to children as easily as Halloween candy
flood victims recovering from hurricanes
refugees fleeing terrorists with no place to go
a nation that sees itself more divided than united
financial pressures
people feeling more hopeless than hopeful about life

The list could go on.
Sooner or later,
something will come at each of us out of the dark.
Something that will seek to disorient us,
to seek to hurt us, 
to seek to wear us down,
to seek to defeat us.

So what are we to do.
This is the word that the Word has for believers.

Put on your armor.
This is how one confronts demons and lives to tell about it.

This is no Halloween costume.
It’s the dress code for spiritual warfare

Wrap yourself in God’s Truth,  for deception is ready to introduce itself to you
Put on a breastplate,  the Righteousness of Christ, for the enemy seeks to wound our vitals
Put on footwear, the Gospel of Peace for you will travel wear into enemy territory.
Carry a shield, a Shield of Faith, so you are protected from missiles of doubt.
Put on the Headwear of your Salvation, so your mind can discern between truth and falsehood
and finally take on the one offensive piece or armor……
the Sword of the Spirit, which gives you God’s Word, to launch when evil advances against you.

The day after Halloween, all the costumes are placed back into storage
for their purpose is done.

As for the armor of God,
wear it every day,
so that when your world gets bumped,
you can still stand firm.

As for me.
I found appropriate gear for life in the orchestra
Bring it on!

“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.
Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm
against the schemes of the devil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
                                                                                            Ephesians 6:10-12

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