Light or Dark

As I sat in the “Nosebleed” section at FBCJ last night observing the Carols 2011 Technical Rehearsal and was (again) amazed at the beauty of that room in general and so very specifically at Christmas with all the lights and trees, I also became keenly aware of the effect of light.  

View from the back of the Sanctuary – FBCJ

Now this is not my first Carols Rodeo – it is more like my 31st. I have always been amazed at how “light” can be used to enhance a point or bring something into focus.  I remember being amazed in the old Sanctuary with the star that was focused over the baptistery – I am fairly certain in those days it was done by placing a filter over some other light.  

Now that kind of stuff is done electronically using “gobo’s” or other tricks of the trade.  That star effect migrated with us into the new (current) Sanctuary and in the last couple of years was replaced by a mirrored glass star that is hung in the baptistery in front of a fiber optic curtain that twinkles with the effects of a starfield.  But I digress.

Different light effect.

A technical rehearsal is just that – technical.  It is starts and stops, marking spots with masking tape for focusing lighting, making sure mechanical and electronic things work.  All of that. It is tedious but it done with about 50-75 people instead of being done with the full choir and orchestra are there (about 450) so it helps us be prepared for those larger rehearsals to be more productive.  Usually not my favorite rehearsal (but it certainly is not my least favorite – that is the Saturday am rehearsal where drama cast is blocked……). Again, I digress.


Last night was different. As I sat there going through in my mind the processional and all of its parts, rehearsing in my head for Monday night since I produce that segment, I looked at all the angles where people would be coming, thinking about starts and stops. Trust me – walking in the dark with a candle in formal dress is not an easy thing to do.  It is the dark part that gets you – what you think you know if you have been at FBCJ for years, disappears in the dark.  Part of my job is to make sure there is enough ambient light to give folks a sense of where they are – we use rope lights, reflective tape, and good old fashioned flashlights at key points.  I saw a couple of things that need a tweak today. No big deal.


Then I looked up and the technical details of how to wander safely in the dark were transformed into a journey with a purpose. Why?  Positioned in the baptistery, hazed in smoke, was the Manger.  This should have been no surprise.  I was part of the planning that discussed doing that but I so underestimated the effect. The processional is in sequences – O Come All Ye Faithful – O Come O Come Emmanuel – Carol to the King….all of it – all of US – coming to the Manger to worship HIM. It was not about how to produce this anymore – it made the story – His Story – come alive.

Isaiah 9:2 told us this:

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shined.”

God with us. Emmanuel. Light. No more night.

I Believe.