When school Christmas concerts don’t suck
Advent. Day 9 of 24
Last night we went to our daughter’s Christmas concert. As a musician, and as a bit of a grumpy critical guy in general, I didn’t have high expectations. As this is her first year in high school, and she goes to an arts school, I expected it to be better than the pain of previous years but that was about the height of what I hoped for.
Was I ever so happy to be so wrong!
The concert was amazing. The talent of these kids was awesome. There was a men’s choir that performed an acapella piece that was brilliant and hilarious. I felt like I was watching an episode of Glee or something. Then there was an all girls choir that was just really good and did an arrangement of a pop piece that was written by one of their students. Such talent.
And then there was the SATB choir that our daughter was in that both opened and closed the show. I would have loved them anyway because she was in it and I’m a very proud dad, but this choir was truly very good. It’s hard to be objective, but I genuinely enjoyed listening to this incredibly talented group perform.
Of course the grumpy, critical side of me came out when the string orchestras played. When even just one violin is out of tune, the whole thing can be a disaster. And, well, it kind of was. And as a musician, nothing is more painful or annoying to me than out of tune instruments or voices.
However, it reminded me of a time when I was at a Gateway chapel service. We were singing songs and someone was whistling along. The whistling was brutally out of tune and was grating on my nerves. I finally couldn’t take it any more so decided to glare behind me to try and express my displeasure. But when I did, I saw that it was a man who I knew fairly well. I knew that he was from another country and that he could barely speak any English. I also knew that he desperately wanted to fit in and to be heard. He wanted to belong.
So his whistling was his way of participating in the music. He was being a member of the choir. At that point, his out of tune whistling became music to my ears.
This Advent season, I long for and will work towards that day when everyone feels like they belong to the choir.
I long for the day when no one feels left out just because they speak a different language.
I long for the day when no one, myself included, gets annoyed by someone doing their best at something but who still sounds or looks different than how I think they ‘should’.
When I left the concert it was snowing. It was the kind of snow that fell lightly from the dark sky and turned the ground white. It looked and felt like movie snow. As I drove home in the snow amidst the city’s Christmas lights, I turned on the 24-hour Christmas radio station. I reflected on that beautiful concert I just attended. I thought about that wonderful whistling. I really felt in that moment that elusive ‘Christmas Spirit’.
I long for the day when every day feels like Christmas.
Come Lord Jesus.