Monday, December 15, 2008


Yesterday our church performed the annual Christmas musical. This year was exceptional. We always set the mood for such productions by bringing the lights in the house down - also in case some of our people need to grab a quick nap during the service. But we used more than can-lights for ambiance this year!

We utilized the concept of “video soundtrack.” With a camcorder, a MacBook and the musical soundtrack, we were able to make our own DVD versions of songs. Our children’s ministry met one Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago to dress in Bible costumes and reenact the Nativity. A couple late nights of editing later had produced a great video of our people’s own kids and grand kids, without the headache of dealing live with costumes!

For another song our people turned in pictures of Christmas past, from their own photo albums (or other family members’). The effect was a nostalgic “feel good” song. While our soloist was singing, “I Love Christmas,” we caught a glimpse of how much she loved it about 20 years ago! Such multimedia seemed to bring our small-town church to another level.

There are always areas that could be improved upon. As musical director, I could have used another month of practice! My biggest weaknesses, which involve planning and organizing, can always stand some tweaking! Overall, I consider this to be the best production since I’ve been at the church.

The weakest factor I found was the abrupt and arbitrary narration. The book’s breviloquent blather seemed a little too thrown together to actually have made it in the back of a published Christmas musical. I mean my alliterations may be superfluous, but they’re also free! We actually paid for those disjointed comments intended to be read between the songs. My wife said, in her North Florida accent, that some of the narration was, “just plain stupid!”

I thought about trying my own hand at more meaningful prose to connect the songs. Maybe you can guess how far I didn’t get! The technical aspects of the musical seemed to overshadow everything else.

When I finally sat down with the narration in mind, I found myself being pulled to the traditional scriptures associated with Christmas. In high school, I discovered what was the other end of the church spectrum from my Pentecostal childhood, when I happened to flip to the back of an Oxford published book of Christmas carols. The Lessons and Carols is a service designed to travel from the fall of man all the way to the stable of Jesus’ birth. It’s the biblical realization that the Word has been made flesh.

The whole crux of Christianity is that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Immanuel - God With Us, is the whole point of the virgin birth, the angels, the shepherds and the manger. After Eons of humanity reaching upward to appease gods and somehow attain peace with them, the One True God reaches down to us! He pulls us upward if we only receive him, and believe in his name.

Sure, I threw in a few zingers about Chia Pets and fruitcakes not making the top of my Christmas gift list, but my main objective was to give them the Word! Being the guy who is still called “ma’am” over the phone, I’m always surprised at how my tenor voice seems to make baritone, when infused with the authority of Isaiah 9:6-7 in the King James! Getting back to those basic scriptures found in any liturgical Christmas book reminded me: Give them the Word, it changes lives!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

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