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  • Bill McLean

Changing the Soundtrack

When our kids were younger, we took them to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, where there was an animation exhibit that you could explore. One of the stations had a cartoon without sound, and guests were able to choose one of several soundtracks to add to the animated clip.

The amazing thing was how the same images took on quite different meanings depending on the music that was played behind them. One minute the clip was an epic journey of discovery across the desert, then by changing the soundtrack it was a group of friends having a fun car ride. Nothing had changed but the music, and yet the animated clip seemed completely different.

When the music on the soundtrack changes, the entire atmosphere changes and with it how we view things. We can change the songs on the soundtrack of our lives, although it might not be as easy as selecting a musical track at the Children’s Museum.

Shifting from a focus on having to do something to a focus of having the privilege to do something changes everything. Our attitude changes and our enthusiasm often increases too. Loving one another can be seen as requirement or we can see it as a celebration and sharing of the love that we have already received from God. In both cases the love can be just as powerful, but one is based on a sense of obligation and the other on a sense of gratitude.

Let us remember the teachings in the Letter to the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:16-17 NRSV)

When our focus is on giving thanks to God, we will raise up songs to the Lord. Sometimes those songs will be hymns of praise that surpass the best jazz or rock songs. While other times those songs will be dirges that make the blues and psalms of lament seem cheerful.

Whether it is the darkest night or the brightest sunrise, by changing how we view things even slightly the situation suddenly appears radically different. And it reminds us that no matter what we are beloved children of God who have been forgiven and blessed by our creator.

How would changing the songs on your soundtrack change your life?

Grace and peace, Bill Rev. William "Bill" McLean, II Presbyter for Congregational Care Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois

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