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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? 

Devotion: It's Only Words

This devotion comes from one of our long-time choir members, Tim Sheie. Tim shared this devotion at one of the first rehearsals of the new season, on September 22, 2015.

The Lord be with you. As we begin yet another busy season and new members introduce a few even-newer members, I’d like to  talk about communication – communication of the text of our music—but more importantly our communication with each other.

Devotion: "We Sing with Joy"

Kate Tripoli shared this devotion during rehearsal earlier this week (September 29, 2015). Kate is a soprano in the National Lutheran Choir.
A couple of rehearsals ago, as we were working on “How Great Are Thy Wonders,” David [Cherwien] made an offhand comment that the opening line, “We sing with joy” isn’t about some woman named Joy. And it made me think of Inside Out, the new Pixar movie from this summer. Inside Out is two stories in one. One story is about Riley, an 11-year-old girl whose parents move the family from Minnesota to California, uprooting her from her life and everything that defined her. The story inside that story is about Riley’s emotions, who appear as sort of people operating the control room of Riley’s mind. Fear, Anger, Disgust, Sadness…and Joy. Riley has always been known as the “happy girl,” because Joy has been unofficially in command of the other emotions, while Sadness gets put in a corner and isn’t allowed to touch anything. The upheaval in Riley's life caused by the move sends Joy and Sadness on a journey together throughout Riley’s entire inner being—her memories, her self-image, her subconscious—and gradually Joy realizes that Sadness is not something to keep locked up. Sadness and Joy have to work together to help Riley become a whole and healthy person, because it is Sadness that makes Joy truly powerful.