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Devotion: Musical Metaphors

Special thanks to Michael Olsen, a tenor with the NLC, for this devotion from October 21, 2014.

I've heard of 2 musical metaphors for major life transitions:

1) Key changes.

If that's the case, my life will rival any contemporary Christian pop song, as I call them, with numerous and seemingly unnecessary key changes.

2) Symphony movements. (I kind of like this image a little better.) In that case I look forward to the next "Andante" movement to slow the pace of change.

One of the things our All Saints concert does for me--and I hope for you and for our audiences each year--is it causes me to slow down and take stock. I love each and every one of the messages in every piece that comprises this program. In fact, if I dwell too long with the texts, I'm reduced to a puddle. (Poor Curt, who stands next to me and who is new to the choir, probably wonders what's going on with the weepy guy next to him.) But that may also be my "manopause..."  Just kidding. 

The prayer in the song we're singing, The Present Tense, to me at first seemed stilted, even awkward. "Keep us from playing it safe." I thought it an odd text to set to music. But then it occurred to me that that's what my prayers sound like every day. Full of stutters and "umms." Not pretty, flowery language. Thankfully, God hears us no matter how banal, awkward or incoherent our words fall out. She even hears us when we can't utter them. The other thing that strikes me about this piece, is that we are called to pray this every day. Not just in big moments, or huge transitions. But Every Day.

Thank you God for the time that is Now! That is now. And now. Thank you God for now is the time of our life! And tomorrow, no matter what we're dealing with, we get to pray it again.

A memory came to me when preparing this devotional. My late-wife, Tami, came home from what turned out to be the last day she was able to go to the office in her last few months. She was at a strategic planning meeting at her office, the kind of thing at which she excelled. She plopped down on the couch and kicked up her feet with a big grin and said with no small amount of satisfaction, I added value today! She was filled with the sense of her contribution. 

When we sing together, we add value: to our lives and to the lives of those that hear us.

Please pray with me.

May we be thankful for the time that is now, right now. May we find you in all of the movements of our symphony of life, and this All Saints,  may our singing add value to your kingdom in heaven and on earth. Amen.

The Present Tense

Text by Fred Kaan
Music Knut Nystedt

From Magnificat for a New Millenium
Thank you, o God, for the time that is now,
for all the newness your minutes allow; 
keep us alert with your presence of mind 
to fears and longings that move humankind.
Thank you, o God, for the time that is past,
for all the values and thoughts that will last.
May we all stagnant tradition ignore, leaving behind things that matter no more.
Thank you for hopes of the day that will come,
for all the change that will happen in time;
God! for the future our spirits prepare, hallow our doubts and redeem us from fear.
Make us afraid of the thoughts that delay, 
faithful in all the affairs of today;
keep us, Creator, from playing it safe,
thank you that now is the time of our life!