It was Christmas 2007. We had been in South Carolina a year and a half, and we were very active in the new church we had been attending for 7 months or so. The small congregation had accepted us into the church family from the very first day we showed up at the door, and we accepted them right back. It truly was a match made in Heaven.
We hired a new worship pastor in the summer, and when he announced auditions for the praise team, something in me stood up at attention. I tried out and wonder of wonders, made the team. This picture was of the Christmas production that was most likely our debut. I can’t remember the name of it but it involved a wooden sleigh in one scene and “live” candles in another (both of which resulted in some incredibly funny stories), and lots of good music in between. That’s me in the pink vest, singing alto beside my friends Amy on the left and Matthew on the right, just in case the lighting is so dark that you can’t tell the Amys from the Matthews. I’m trying to act like it’s totally natural for me to be holding that microphone when in fact, it was way out of my comfort zone.
I’ve been a singer for years. I sang in the high school choir and the “pop group” (similar to what Glee and show choirs do, on a smaller scale). I sang in the church choirs, when I was in a church that had one. I even had a solo or two thrown my way, but I was never a “star” – the one that people think of when they’re looking for someone to play a lead role. I was a supporting player, an alto who mainly sang harmony and served to make the lead vocals sound good. And I was OK with that. If I’m honest, I could admit that sometimes I wished to be the one who got called on to sing solos, but mostly I was glad to avoid the pressure.
I sang on that worship team for three years, and I loved it. It was my niche, and there was such a sense of “rightness” for me in it. The church was growing and changing, stretching itself to accommodate the people who came there seeking something (Someone) to fill a void in their lives. And I saw it all happening from my vantage point in the front of the church. I made lifelong friends on that team and we shared experiences that can never be taken away and that will bond us forever. The worship pastor liked to write his own productions (some of which were quite powerful) and we lived in fear of his wardrobe requests. They invariably required some hard to find item of clothing that had us scouring the Goodwill stores for weeks beforehand. There was the year when we all had to wear shirts in “Easter egg” colors. And the year when we did a Western themed play that called for denim skirts and (gasp!) line dancing. Good times, good times.
We’re still at that church and we still love its vision and mission. The church facility has changed dramatically in the six years since this photo was taken, and the church body has grown from about a hundred members to over two thousand on a typical Sunday morning. There have been personnel changes too, including the worship pastor, and while our current one doesn’t do the kind of productions pictured above, he is, quite simply, amazing. His talent, his heart for worship and his desire to seek God’s direction for his ministry make him a very effective worship pastor, and he has a sense of humor that makes him a delight to be around.
But if I’m honest, I can admit that sometimes I miss the days of our ragtag band of musicians and handmade Christmas “productions”.