Our First Noel
By Dennis Eldred
I don't pretend to be an accomplished musician. I do not lead music, even if threatened with a gun. My wife, bless her soul tries to find something else to do during our music service. We help our choir by not singing in it. In short, we are dedicated non-musicians. But that wasn't always the case.
Once, long ago, when we were braver, we started a church. We weren't alone in our efforts; we had other non-musically talented individuals to help. We didn't sing; we only tried.
We were a bold lot. We weren't afraid to try anything. We had no rich members to offend. We had no church traditions to guide us. We had the Spirit of God, the bible, and our convictions to guide us. Maybe, we had no brains.
To say the least, our path was often down a wobbly road. Have you heard the term, "smooth as ice?" Our ice was like the ice you shoveled the snow off from on an old skating pond. You enjoyed the ice while you were there, but if you left; someone else came along and broke it. When you came back two days later, the smooth ice was all bumpy. One thing was for sure; we didn't invent the boring church.
In case you’re not aware of it, excitement isn't always pleasant. The roller coasters at the amusement park may be fun; not so the roller coasters at church. Oh, a sense of humor helps; but what do you do if someone has a queasy stomach?
As music was one of our big weaknesses at church, we were determined to do something about it. Worship tapes helped us get by while we prayed for a piano and piano player. We were given an organ. We prayed for an organ player and got a guitar player. He didn't have a guitar, so we bought him one. He became disgruntled and left, taking his guitar with him. Then we were given choir books.
We headed back to the drawing board, looking for a new plan. The books were quite impressive. What could we do with them? One of the smarter ones of our little group looked at a calendar, and saw it was November. "Hey, I know. We can go Christmas caroling."
"That's right," I said. "We have just enough time to practice before Christmas."
We all knew it would be a snap. We had all known the words since childhood. How could it be a problem?
Our first clue came the night we got together to practice. Half the people didn't show up. We re-scheduled for another night, and the other half didn't show up. The night we picked to go caroling, everyone showed up.
We could feel the joy bubbling up in us, as we set out. We went down one street singing “Away In A Manger” and up another singing “Silent Night”. When we rounded the corner of the next street we began to sing “The First Noel”. A window opened. We all grinned, thinking our singing was being enjoyed. At last our church had found the voice of music ministry.
A man leaned out the window. The street echoed with, "Shut up!"
We closed our books, turned around and silently marched away. That night we drank our hot chocolate and laughed at ourselves, but we never went caroling again.
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Ah, the power of a joyful noise, and a large bucket to carry the tune in.