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Devotion: Relationships with the saints in our lives

This devotion was shared on October 20th prior to our performance with the Milwaukee Choral Artists at Concordia University-Wisconsin in Mequon WI. Tim Sheie is a long-time member of the bass section.

Well...most of us in the room right now have to admit something - we're choir geeks. It finally dawned on me last week as I boarded a Southwest flight from Denver and the gate agent was scanning boarding passes. As each one was accepted - I recognized the pitch of each of the beeps: B...B...B...

After growing up in the 50's and 60's in a traditional, conservative Norwegian Lutheran family, and as a PK, as well - all the PK's please raise your hands (Ed. many hands went up) - I shocked my Eastern family by marrying into...Wisconsin. And not just anywhere in Wisconsin, but Sheboygan. I was forced to learn many things to survive, including a whole new language:

"Hey, come over by my house once, and whistle me out, so my Mom can see who I hang by...Eh, na?"

I was humiliated as I attempted to buy summer sausage and the butcher asked me "mit, or mitout?" Mit or mitout WHAT, I asked?? Scourged, smitten, and afflicted, I managed to learn and adjust my way through 39 years of marriage with my current wife, Mary. She'd be mortified to hear me talk like this, but then we'd laugh about it...

We all experience the highs and lows in relationships, and every day with these people that we love is a gift. My wife's brother passed away recently and as the executor of his estate, she assumed sole responsibility for his financial irresponsibility as well as the massive task of emptying and selling his house. He was both a scientific and technical hoarder and a procrastinator. It got even worse when he realized that he could always procrastinate tomorrow.

For example, I found a file folder labelled "To do (to put off)." Then there's always the legendary box that was labeled "String too short to be saved." But hidden in the work of the estate is a gift - the gift of the chance to look back so closely into someone's life, almost to hold the evidence of your relationship in your hands. To my wife, he passed along a love of classical music evidenced by a massive vinyl LP collection that we had to deal with. But even that was a seed of music that bore much fruit in our lives and in our children and beyond. You can feel time in your hands as you lift his violin, now silent, out of its case.

As we reflect during All Saints weekend on what is important, we realize that It's NOT about the economy, it's not about jobs, it's not about acquiring and possessing STUFF - it's about relationships! It's about love. From my favorite New England poet, Robert Frost:

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have speed far greater.
You can climb back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still.
Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away from one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together, wing to wing and oar to oar.

As we fulfill our call - our responsibilities to love each other - let's end with a text from Paul's letter to the Hebrews: "Remember your leaders who spoke the Word of God to you...Consider how their lives ended, and imitate their faith - for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever..." [Hebrews 13:7-8]

Come to us, O God of splendor bright - fill our hearts with everlasting light.