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Southern eyes

This holiday season, I learned a new group of people to tip my hat to - the church choir and their director. The old proverb says understanding comes when we've walked a mile in someone's shoes. This month, I tried it. But those shoes had held the same feet for 30 years, and both of my own became left feet when I put them on.

Gail Wilcher was music coordinator and pianist at Mill Creek Baptist Church in Gibson for those years. When she retired, God opened the door for me to walk in. And I think He was laughing the entire time. Now, playing the piano in church I can handle. In fact, I love it. I grew up attending various churches, camp meetings and revival services for probably 360 days of every year. I sing old-fashioned hymns in my sleep, or at least in the shower. And I've sung in, or listened to, my share of Christmas cantatas.

My best recollection of cantatas is they are … long. I remember practices beginning in September and increasing in number as the cantata grew in length. But that experience didn't prepare me for my recent cantata crash course.

The timing of the first day of my new position and the weekend before Christmas left only four weeks until show time. That's four weeks to find music, learn it myself and teach it well enough for a performance. Do you hear disaster ringing in your ears? To me, it sounded more like the horn of a train in the middle of the night.

In case you ever wondered - choir members do have lives of their own. Meaning last-minute choir practices in December conflict with other events that have been on the calendar for months and include a bigger, more festive, fun-factor. I usually have a poor remembrance for names. Just when I thought I'd learned everyone's name at one practice, a totally different choir would show up at the next practice.

But the gift of Christmas is God's miracle to the world. And He didn't stop giving this year, especially at a little church in Gibson, Ga. Sunday night, I learned the most important lesson a choir director could know. The director may stand in front and wave her holiday-adorned arms, but it is the choir that brings the show. And did they ever deliver. During the performance, my eyes saw the choir members whose names I couldn't remember, but my ears heard the angelic heavenly hosts I have yet to meet (with a little country twang here and there).

Mrs. Wilcher must have trained them well, because all I had to do was stand there and wave my arms. But the cantata sounded so pretty, that occasionally I even stopped waving and just simply smiled. I'm pretty sure God was doing the same thing.

Web posted on Thursday, December 27, 2007

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