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Devotion: Out with Resolutions, In with Resiliency!

On January 12, the choir gathered to rehearse for the first time in 2016. Sarah Koepp, a member of the National Lutheran Choir's alto section, shared this devotion with the choir prior to rehearsal. Resiliency is the new Resolution.
Ahhhh ... New Year’s. I saw many articles this new year about not setting resolutions. Sort of a boycott on resolutions. And I have to say I sort of agree! I’m just never very good at them. I should resolve to unsubscribe to the many junk emails I seem to be on. And I should resolve to be better about helping my kids figure out how to keep track of their school library books….but those things may or may not happen in 2016. Instead of Resolutions, I’ve been intrigued with Resiliency -- a buzz word right now. 

Devotion: All Shall Be Well

This devotion was given by Diane Fleming, wife of the late Larry Fleming, founder of the National Lutheran Choir, prior to the choir's performance at the Basilica of Saint Mary on December 12, 2015. Diane joins the choir each December, as a member of the Liturgical Party for the Christmas Festival concerts in Minneapolis. This year's program was titled, "The Spotless Rose."

Fear.  It's anxiety producing.......It lives in darkness......It immobilizes......It suffocates........It clenches fists and closes hearts.......  It is void of hope.

To calm our anxieties.......  to light up our free us up.......  to give us relax our hands and open our hearts..... to instill hope....

God sends His son.

Devotion: Praying Through Music

Prior to last week's rehearsal (11/17/15), NLC alto Hope Kelsey shared this devotion about praying through song. Is it a "Sound of Music" week for you? Or maybe "Amazing Grace" has been running through your mind?

Every other year, [my employer] holds a big sales meeting, which happened to be the first part of last week. It is a time of networking and education - so among other things, many well known speakers are brought in to share insights to the attendees, which add up to about 1600 people or so.

The first big speaker on Monday morning was Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.  I was thrilled that we were starting off with him, using music to talk about the concepts from his book, The Art of Possibility.  He radiated this positive energy and made everyone understand and love Chopin - and helped everyone sing the most rousing version of “Happy Birthday” that I’ve heard for some time.

Devotion: Forgiveness

This devotion was given by new NLC member, Keyla Christenson. Keyla shared this devotion prior to rehearsal on November 10, 2015.

This devotion is more of a meditation, so stick with me. Take one of the gem stones that are going around in the jars. Hold that stone in your hand, rolling it around delicately. Feel the smooth surfaces. Now, picture an event or a person in your life that has caused you hurt, pain, regret, or hardship. Perhaps, you picture something you personally have done that you wish you hadn’t. Whatever comes to mind that plagues your thoughts, put it inside that stone. Did the stone become a lot heavier all of a sudden? Our regrets can weigh us down and burden us more than we could ever believe.

Devotion: What does it taste like?

This devotion was given by one of our sopranos, Sarah Bane, prior to rehearsal on November 3, 2015.

About a month ago, one of the pastors at the church I work at asked if I'd help him with the First Communion class we offer on a monthly basis for the young ones in our congregation who are ready to start partaking in the Lord's Supper. I'd never helped with a First Communion class, and before saying "yes" I probably should have asked more questions. Thinking I'd take notes on a white board, help act out the story of Jesus, and in general just be a support to the pastor, I instead learned right before the class started that I was to take a group of 1st through 3rd graders to our chapel, by myself, to teach them about this holy sacrament. Yikes!

Devotion: Gratitude

This devotion was given by NLC Choir President, Michael Olsen, whose daughter recently got married. The piece Michael references, "I Lift Up My Eyes," was commissioned by David Salmi, who passed away on October 21, 2015. The choir will sing this piece at both All Saints concerts, November 1 and 6.

Marriage, and other rituals in which we participate, such as baptisms and funerals, bring out in me a powerful sense of gratitude. Gratitude that things went better than I had imagined, even if half of the house was supposed to be newly sided, but instead half of it was either exposed plywood or partially house-wrapped in Tyvek. Gratitude for the unseasonably beautiful weather. Gratitude for family and friends. Gratitude for wonderful new in-laws. Really. Well, mostly. But also, gratitude for the time we got to have with loved ones lost. Gratitude for life lessons learned the hard way. Gratitude for our comings and goings being watched over.

Devotion: #Blessed

NLC tenor, Tony Spain, shared this devotion with the choir prior to rehearsal on October 20, 2015. The title of this year's All Saints concert is "Blessed Are They."

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be “Blessed.” I think it was brought on by my recoiling anytime someone on Facebook ended a post with #blessed. 

“New promotion at work! #Blessed”

“Look at these pictures of our brand new house! #Blessed”

“Look at this cute thing my happy, healthy, well-provided-for kids did! #Blessed”

The new "blessed" language seems at odds to the beatitudes. Blessed are the poor, the meek, and those who mourn. The persecuted and the defamed? So which is it?