Sunday night’s Christmas concert was, of course, very exciting and gratifying for me personally. I was delighted that it was so well attended and so well received. I am also grateful to all of the people who helped make the evening happen.
Of course, Sunday night was more than a musical success. Something very important happened that I found up-lifting. Somehow, it didn’t seem as though we in the music program were providing a presentation for you. It was more like this concert was something we all – everyone in the church family – produced together and that we were all a part of what was happening. I felt a sense of community – a sense of family – in that sanctuary that I have seldom felt before in my career in music ministry.
What caused this special feeling? Well, a lot of it comes from the excitement of having a new pastor, and it was also promoted by the manner in which our pastor “presided” over the evening with charm and obvious appreciation for the contributions of all who helped make the evening happen. It was also significant that many of you in the congregation Sunday morning rolled up your sleeves to clear the sanctuary of all of the considerable paraphernalia involved in our Saturday dress rehearsal and then helped set up again after the morning service– chairs for the orchestra and music stands and drums and bells and whistles and harps all had to be moved twice. I was touched and gratified at the number of you who helped, and somehow, that process made you all a part of the concert effort. It was no longer “The Music Ministry presenting”; it was your concert, too. That, to me, was really and truly “church”!
So Sunday evening the sanctuary was jam-packed. Rhonda Welfare and I worked hard on getting the word out to the community; but we’ve done that before and the sanctuary still did not fill up. I am quite certain the church was full because you as a congregation talked up the event and invited friends and family to attend. You got us our “full house”. Once again the concert became more your event. Again, that to me is “church”!
Carol Atkins had to be out of town Sunday and couldn’t attend the concert herself, but she organized a beautiful reception afterwards – and I am very grateful to her and to her “crew” for their contribution to the evening and to all who brought food. “Church”!
The public Sunday evening got to meet our new pastor and see him in action. We could not have had a better reading partner for him than Amy Sauls who did a stellar job sharing in delivering the spoken message. “Church”!
After the concert, members of the choir carried all of the orchestra equipment out of the sanctuary and loaded it into our trailer – that after having sung a difficult concert. “Church”!
Now I owe special thanks to a lot of people: to our choir for their hard work and superb performance; to Brenda Doyle and Barbara Rowley for helping me organize the orchestra set-up; to Mary Greiner, our oboist, for recruiting such a fine orchestra, to Herb Finch who was recruited at the last minute to organize greeters for the evening – a good thing, since we had so many to attend! Good work, Herb and thanks! I also say special thanks to the multi-talented Bev Hunter for making the enchanting Irish costume for our soloist; to Faith Houck for singing her solo parts so beautifully; and to Kurt Melges for his wonderful duet with Faith.
Very special thanks go to my colleague David Fitzgerald, Minister of Music at Wake Forest Baptist Church, for suggesting “Tapestry of Light” as the perfect Christmas piece for us and for so generously lending us the choral parts free of charge. Shirley Ammons connected us with a donor who volunteered to provide the funds to engage an orchestra. It would be tough to come up with a big enough “thank you” for that individual, who insisted on remaining anonymous. I hope that person was present Sunday night and was happy with the results! I must also thank Andy Weiss, the band director at Jordan High, for allowing us to borrow very expensive equipment that he is normally hesitant to lend out. His generosity and trust have made our special musical presentations possible over the past five years.
Mostly, however, thanks to you all for making our concert into something more important and more significant than a musical event. It was church!
Love and Nollaig Shona Dhaoibh! (Merry Christmas Irish style)