The secret is not to make your music louder, but to make the world quieter. –a quote from The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
Tammy and I enjoy watching The Voice, a prime-time reality show where amateur or semi-professional singers compete to be named The Voice winner. Contestants are coached by one of a panel of four coaches. The coaches are in competition, as well, striving to coach one of the contestants to the winning
spot. I probably enjoy the show more for the banter between the coaches that is most often entertaining and comical.
What I’ve observed over time about this show is that contestants try to out do each other by how loudly they can sing. When contestants crescendo to an ear-piercing high note, the audience goes wild and the coaches jump to their feet. I, too, am impressed with the vocal range of contestants and their ability to belt out a tune with such volume. However, volume begets volume and the world gets louder.
The quote from Magic Strings says to me that music is most impactful when it helps us find our way in the blaring volume of life. Voices or thoughts that may offer a helpful way forward are drowned out by the overwhelming volume. I think this is why I crave, at times, mellow tunes. I want something quieter so that I’m able to slow my breathing, tune in to be more fully present, and listen with a keener ear to the thoughts and voices offering alternative, healthier, and clearer direction.
Albom may be helping us consider life in general. We can easily become engaged in the hustle and bustle of life. We are, to an extent, programmed to add more and more to our lives as a means of expanding our total being. The volume of life increases, and, in turn, we add to the volume of the life around us. Does this added volume enhance or distract?
I’ll try to add perspective. The holidays easily crescendo in volume. Shopping for gifts, baking goodies, gathering for family dinners and gift exchanges, attending holiday programs, deciding family gathering schedules, planning menus, are just a few of the ascending notes reaching a pitch that can prevent us from realizing the harmony this season can bring to our lives. That’s why it’s helpful for me to find the “music” of the season that makes the world quieter and invites my spirit into a deeper, more meaningful place. I find this music in the Christmas Eve service.
Granted, I have responsibility for creating the service which is another note on the ascending scale. Nevertheless, the service is more contemplative, slower in pace, pulling the volume down to a point I’m able to focus on an important element of the holiday season, relationships. For me, Christmas is a time of remembering God’s work of building relationships, especially with those who find themselves on the margins of or are sadly denied those connections. The Christmas Eve service is a moment for me to reflect, with utmost gratitude, on the relationships I enjoy, to consider seriously how I might connect more completely in those relationships that are strained, and to ponder how I might engage with those yearning for connections who have very few or none. Turning down the volume, listening to the mellow tones of the season, helps me do this more authentically.
What are the moments of lesser volume that help you engage more authentically?
Sunday, December 19 recap
Music filled the air during worship December 19. Pam Willison (piano) and Lindsey Larson (glockenspiel) opened the service with a wonderful musical prelude. Carol Davis and Colin Davis shared a duet entitled Prophets Knew. Alex Smith sang a solo of I Wonder as I Wander accompanied by Pam Willison. And the Canton Church of the Brethren choir was back, along with Alex Smith and Lindsey Larson, and sang a rendition of Hark the Herald Angels. The service also included poetry, as well as a reading about Christmas symbolism that included a slideshow of relevant images. Martha Harr was present and read from the balcony. And all those in attendance were given a bell to ring at various times during worship and to place on the Christmas tree toward the conclusion of the service. It was a time for slowing down for a few moments and allowing the meaning of Christmas to ease our weariness.
Worship Service, December 26
The worship service December 26th will be held in-person and via Zoom. Although the order of the service is not yet completed, it will likely be abbreviated in length, include videos, both of music and story, and a contain a brief homily. If joining by Zoom, the link for doing so is below:
Topic: Dec. 26 Worship Service
Time: 9:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 826 2643 1255
If by phone:
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+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 826 2643 1255
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kb3QFBjelv