When talking about my role with the First Jackson Sanctuary Choir and particularly with Carols by Candlelight, I almost always describe what I do in terms of “herding cats.” I visited that topic in my blog last year about this time. In a spiritual sense, I wonder if that is how feels about us? I am certain He certainly has more patience WITH me than I do with others and certainly with myself. Somewhere along life’s journey, I developed (inherited?) this “it has to be perfect” gene. Steve, using ‘ logic believes that “failure is always an option.” I just don’t see it that way. Never have. Not likely to start now. So I expect a lot of others and a whole lot of myself. It is that important to me.
James Arrington Goff, the organist at First Jackson, editor of Our South magazine, and my friend, has graciously extended opportunities to contribute to the magazine to me and at least three others (, Sherye Green, and ) from the Sanctuary Choir. I thought the first time was a fluke, but he asked me to do this fourth article (not me asking if they might be interested in a topic). He even gave me the title: Herding Cats. He wanted me to tell the story of the first processional rehearsal we have each year and some of the history behind how the process has evolved over the years. You can read it in the issue of Our South published last week. The entire magazine is great. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
I could write a book about Carols “behind the scenes”. This is my 33rd and the 44th overall. Trust me – there is a lot of material. I doubt I would ever take that route as it would take away from the mission and ministry goals – telling the Story of Jesus in a way that every man, woman or child can understand and believe. If we share the Story as a muddled message, then we are nothonoring in what we are doing.
I believe because I know the hearts of the people in the trenches that their desire is the same as mine – to tell others the Story of Jesus. While many who come into the Sanctuary at First Jackson over those three days are “church members” from literally around the world, they are not allFollowers. The do not know Him personally. They are literally without hope. Some don’t even realize that until they find themselves in crisis – family, health, financial, whatever – and realize they have nothing – no faith – upon which to fall back.
So as we prepare to share The Hope ofbeginning December 13th, it is my prayer that seeds be planted, seeds planted elsewhere be nurtured, and that the preparation of the Sanctuary Choir, the children and youth, the orchestra, the production team, and countless other volunteers will be Christ focused. This should never be, as Dr. Pollard used to say, “a nervously clocked hour of religious entertainment.” Carols should be a shared experience of worship where God, and God alone, is the Sole Object of our worship.
I have great faith that the “cats” will get it all together. They actually did great in the first rehearsal last week. More importantly, I pray for those who need Jesus that somehow through something we say, sing or do, that they will “get it”. I ask that you pray for them, too. Christ commanded us to “go”. Through Carols, we are doing that by taking tickets to folks to come, inviting folks to watch online or via television and being available to go to answer questions and pray with them as their journey continues.
I know The Hope of Christmas born those many years ago so innocently in that stable is the same Hope Who died for me and rose again after three days in that tomb. Do you? Have you shared Him today?
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ( : 19-20)
Still Choosing Joy