Wednesdays in November usually mean Christmas music practice. For those of you not involved in church music, please appreciate the fact that it takes weeks of practice to get ready for that 45 minutes of music in December.
My favorite memory of Christmas music preparation had to do with a children’s performance at my church in Olathe, Kansas. I was mature (all 13 years of me) and too young to be performing with the children. But, some adult had decided that certain, well behaved (little did they know) members of the teen group would help out. Having long, dark hair, I was assigned the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
This particular program had an interesting stage setting. A large book was on the platform. The huge cover would be opened and a scene would be shown on a page inside the book. The scenes were acted out by the teens and the kids. As Mary, I was in several scenes and I got to hold “Baby Jesus.” For this production, Baby Jesus was a baby doll who had a string in his back. During a break one day, I pulled the string and learned that this Baby Jesus could talk. Wow!!
It was Saturday and we were practicing. The shepherds had received the amazing news from the choir of angels and had come to Bethlehem. As they bowed down before the Christ child, the 2nd and 3rd grade shepherds were shocked to hear baby Jesus crying “Mama, mama, mama.” (Lucky for me, the adults were just out of range to hear the doll’s recorded cry.) The shepherds looked around for the source of the cries and then flubbed their lines. I loved it!!
It was time for the Wise Men and I was ready. As the 4th and 5th grade kings from afar approached the Christ child, I pulled the string. This time, the baby cried out “I’m hungry.” The Wise Men fell over, looking like bowling pins knocked to the floor by a crying baby doll. I could not control myself, this time I started laughing too.
The adults were not amused. I received a private “counseling session” about how I needed to be a leader and role model to the younger children. Being a relatively smart kid, I did as they asked. Baby Jesus was silent the rest of the day. (I still find it hilarious that when I arrived on the day of the performance, I found that the Baby Jesus doll had been replaced – the new one was WITHOUT a string!!)
Practicing means that you identify things that need to be improved or changed – like not tempting a junior high prankster with a doll that talked. Practice is important.
The great golfer, Sam Snead said that “Practice puts brains in your muscles.” I like that. When we practice something, we get better at doing the thing without having to think about it so much. Our actions become less hesitant and more fluid. Our speed improves. Our stamina grows. And, we are able to focus on the small things that can be improved. Ever watch a stellar sprinter or golfer? They do the little things so very, very well. Their natural abilities are refined and improved because they practice over and over the things that will enhance their performance.
So, what are you practicing? For too many years, I held practice arguments on my drive to and from work when I should have been praying about the situations that concerned me. Are you practicing the things that you do not want to do, or the person that you do not want to be? Are you getting better at being sullen or sarcastic or bitter?
Or, are you practicing the things that you want to learn to better?
The scripture tells us “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
My Friend, It is time for us to get ourselves together! Time to stop “stinking thinking” and practice thinking about good things. Don’t worry, we’ve got this. We can do it. Practice may not make perfect, but it will make us better!!
p.s. To my PCN choir friends: I really have a GOOD REASON for missing practice tonight; I am not just goofing off. And, to our Fearless Leader: I PROMISE to listen to my CD!!