Sunday, March 6, 2011

benediction.

this morning all members of the spu concert choir had to be up by around six am, performing a few of our pieces as part of the service at a local church.  i can assure you that i griped along with everyone else, annoyed at the early call time and the disruption of my weekend plans (sleep.  sleep.  sleep).

somehow my morning grumpiness melted away in this little church, simply evaporated in the presence of the authenticity i encountered there.  yes, the service was more liturgical than i'd normally prefer, and yes, a good fifty percent of the congregation was silver-haired and slow-moving.  and yet--there was this rare and sincere warmth in the faces of everyone who said thank you to us.  there were several hundred muffins and cupcakes delivered by congregation members for breakfast in between services.  when the pastor opened up time in the service for people to offer prayer requests, voices called out in earnest.

and i know this next part will sound utterly cheesy, but there was a portion near the end of each service when the children of the congregation walked down the aisle, singing their alleluias with the rest of the congregation.  as they marched solemnly up the aisle, everyone made slow circles with their fingers, starting low by the waist and spiraling upward overhead, like there were little fireflies attached to the tips of their fingers.  the first service we all just watched, unsure of what was happening, but by the second service, i saw all the members of the concert choir beginning to make small motions in my peripheral vision.

we should be too cool for such things, probably, as educated, middle-class college students who generally complain about anything choir-related, but somehow the small gesture was meaningful in the moment.  we said "amen" with the congregation, and i closed my eyes during the benediction song.  those moments always surprise me, because we've sung those pieces a hundred times or more, and the songs usually feel dry and calculated by performance time, sucked dry of their sentimentality.  it sneaks up on me, i guess.  my favorite lines today were as follows:

And let truth be a shield around you
And joy fill your everyday
May the peace of the Lord be with you
For this we humbly pray.
Amen.
Amen.
Amen.

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