I’ve had a week to recover from a preschool bell choir. This is an annual event where we line up twenty or so preschoolers, march them up on stage in front of a full church audience and hand them bells. It takes us about three months of practice to get ready. It’s typically adorable. The worst year we had one child running around on the stage while two other kids had a punching contest on stage. It took us the rest of the year to forget and to decide this was again a good idea. Frankly, at three and four, if you march kids on stage and told them just to smile I think their parents and grandparents would call it a success.
This year we also decided that Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas is in fact the cutest thing ever. So we taught our preschoolers to say Luke 2: 11- 14 in between their two bell songs.
“For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest and on Earth, Peace, Goodwill toward Men”.
People sometimes are cynical about Christmas. They talk about how our world isn’t exactly at peace and in this economy and political environment there is not a lot of goodwill.
I”m certainly not a bible scholar but I think what that verse means is not that Peace is everywhere or that Goodwill magically breaks out at Christmas. I think what it means is that the Christ child is a gift of peace and goodwill from God to those who will accept Him.
I love this version of I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.
God is not dead nor doth He sleep.
Ring those bells.
If you have been following this blog at all you’ve probably picked up that our first choir performance last week was humiliating. Hilarious is retrospect but humiliating. We actually stopped in the middle of the songs. Yes, both songs. We didn’t even finish the second one and we slunk off the stage. What would you do if your CD quit and you didn’t know the words??
We have been working very hard all week long at choir practice and today we got to sing Amazing Grace / My Chains Are Gone and Blessed Be Your Name at Pastor Simon’s church. In comparison, we were fabulous. In reality, probably mediocre but we’ll take it. The congregation actually clapped and smiled and a few even waved. We left feeling quite relieved.
This afternoon we went to a concert being held at Pastor Simon’s church. They had invited singing groups from all the local churches to come together for an afternoon (3 1/2 hours) of singing. They were all incredible. At one point, the power went out just as the next singer in line was getting ready to start. He had planned on using power point, his electric guitar and his backup keyboard. He just shrugged, unplugged the guitar and used it without power. He proceeded to give a beautiful ballad about the love of God. He smiled, walked off.
And then the director looked in our direction. The only word I understood was “Muzunga” and then all 500 pairs of big brown eyes all looked at us expectantly. You have got to be kidding. We have to sing for ALL the local choirs….without power? No CD? Again? Pastor Simon will always be my hero because he said “No, the Americans can not sing without power”.
I am not positive but I think the entire room started praying for power. God hears the prayers of these people. About five minutes later, we’re back up at the front of the church belting out the lyrics to Amazing Grace. “My chains are gone…I’ve been set free.. My God, My Saviour has ransomed me. And like a flood, His mercy reigns, unending love, Amazing Grace”. This time…they cheered. They weren’t cheering for us. We’re still a bunch of mazungas who really are basically tone deaf. They were cheering for Christ and for the Freedom He Gives.
The lesson from Rwanda? When you don’t get the plan you wanted, keep singing.