If you're a member of a church choir, most likely you've begun rehearsing music for Christmas productions. As a minister of music's child, I got the intense pleasure of hearing Christmas sample cassette tapes or CDs in our car as we traveled to Kentucky every summer. It could be hotter than the devil's armpit outside, but we were listening to sleigh bells and songs about evergreens and baby Jesus. Happy summer. Joy to the world.
I'm now leading music in a small church. It's funny how life will circle around, then plop you right down where you never thought you'd be. Our choir kicked off its Christmas rehearsals last night, but the songs of the season were heard in my home several months ago. If you're wondering, I listened to the sample music sitting beside my year-round Christmas tree, and yes, I plugged the lights in.
It seemed appropriate.
After the kick off at Pinedale, hub and I drove across town to participate in the last 30 minutes of First Baptist's Living Christmas Tree rehearsal. This is the tree my dad created in 1981. There were many conversations around the supper table about this particular tree. It was a new idea to the area, and most people simply did not get it. The Fire Marshall made a visit because he thought it was a giant tree stuck in water. He had concerns until Daddy explained that it was a steel structure with live, fire-proofed branches attached. Many wondered if it could support the weight of the choir, and nerves were high the first night they climbed it to rehearse. Dad travelled all over the country to view other church's trees and get ideas of what to do and more importantly, what not to do. He didn't want it to be a "show", but a worship service. After intense planning, help from hundreds of volunteers and a lot of prayer, his dream came true. They opened the doors and hoped people would come.
They came. Oh, how they came. It reminded me of the "Field of Dreams" movie. Word got out and the people traveled from far and wide. Every service was standing room only. He allowed the public in on dress rehearsals. He added more performances. The public responded. Visitors came from all over the world. Counterfeit tickets were made and used, even though it was a FREE concert! Paul Harvey covered the story on his radio show, "and that's the rest of the story." Dad later added 2 more tree structures to make a fantastic trio like few had ever seen. We were all shocked and amazed at its success. We presented 9 services every year until the new sanctuary was built, which was also the year of Dad's death. That stung a little. It felt like Moses and the promised land, but I know without a shadow of a doubt that Daddy would be humbled and proud that the LCT is still sharing the Christmas story, year after year.
The other day, I heard a radio announcer say she wanted to begin putting her Christmas tree up. The staff was giving her grief about it. Now I realize it seems a tad early for most, but for me and my house, it's completely normal. I keep one tree up all year, and my family gets the delight of hearing the songs of the season from May through December. You're welcome fam jam. I do realize that you don't always share in said delight. However, I don't believe it's doing any permanent damage. The holidays seem to make everyone a little nicer, a little happier, a little more giving. If we keep the songs of Christmas in our hearts for more than one month a year, maybe the spirit of the season will spread in our homes and communities a little sooner. Maybe we'll show love a little bit more, have a little more patience with each other, smile a little more often. Maybe we'll get a jump on the planning and shopping so that December won't be so stressful. That wouldn't be such a bad thing, now would it? If you're in need of inspiration, drop in on your local church's choir rehearsal. More than likely you'll hear, "Silent Night" or, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" at some point. The warm fuzzy feeling only Christmas brings will begin to fill your heart. At the least, it will get your mind off of the heatwave for a moment.
What Christmas songs are your favorites? Go ahead and sing one. I won't tell.
Post your Christmas program pictures. I'd love to see them! It's never too soon to feel the holiday spirit.