Between Advent preparations, Christmas Eve planning, vacation scheduling, day-to-day schedule negotiating, science fair project finishing, band concert attending, and all the other extra things that happen this time of year, I certainly understand the overwhelmed feeling that so many people have during "The Holidays" ~ and our family doesn't even do a bunch of Christmas shopping. I have a hard time imaging how other people manage.
On the other hand, in the midst of the chaos, there are moments when I believe it's worth the extra effort. Harper, the other day on the spur of the moment, rehearsed and played a holiday music concert with the Denver Brass (denverbrass.org) ... well, Harper plus about 100 other amateur musicians. To see her struggling to follow the notes on the page with her eyes, let alone with her trombone slide, was stress-inducing for her dad ~ would she be too embarassed or frustrated with this experience? I wondered. But then to hear her talk about how exciting it was, and how good the Denver Brass trombonists are with the kind of anticipation in her voice that said "maybe I can be that good someday" made it worthwhile.
And then, last night I had to rush away from HFASS to get back to Holy Love for our Service of Lessons and Carols. Our meduim-sized congregation's chancel choir singing Christmas music for a full house found me sitting in the back of the sanctuary listening to the singing and thinking to myself "they're decent, but I've heard better". But when I looked around the room at the members of our congregation, and folks from elsewhere, all of whom had come out to hear Christmas music, and to hear the story of our incarnate God told through scripture and song, and to sing together songs of our faith ~ all this made me realize that it's better that they're not professionals. If they were, it would take something essential away from the whole experience. Professionals belong at the theatre, or on a concert stage; the members of the congregation belong in front, telling their community the story. In a church sanctuary, in the same place where we gather every week to hear the truth of God's grace and mercy and forgiveness, the local choir sings our faith more authentically than any hired guns ever could.
And once again I'm reminded that music is too important to be left to the professionals ... and that I could use some more practice.