Friday, March 07, 2008

Blessed Assurance - Grove

Remember how Humpty Dumpty had a great fall?
Well, I had a crack up of my own recently.
A very public crack up.
At church.
Last Sunday.
Let me back up.
At our church, we're what you would call ‘musically challenged’. Unable to afford (or find) a professional orchestra like the bigger churches, we rely solely on the plunka-plunka of our beloved piano player, the twang of my husband’s oh-so-rusty guitar and my loud voice (we have other singers, but I somehow manage to drown them out even when I whisper). We are quite terrible and it’s worth the price of admission just to see us up there trying our hearts out. I seem to recall a verse in Psalms about making a joyful noise. Oh LORD! We claim that verse! Can I get a witness?

Enter our sweet-faced saxophone player, a young guy with oodles of talent, none of it musical, who asked Pastor Steve if he could join us for a song next Sunday. Pastor Steve (that's him there, peeking at you) is a nice guy. He said “yes” without thinking about it much. Or even, oh, I don’t know, maybe, rehearsing.

Then, lo, Sunday morn doth dawn and we find ourselves standing stage left ready to dig into Just a Closer Walk with Thee. Lovely song that. Just made for the saxophone, don’t you think? Alto sax if you want to get particular (which our young musician did). Right on cue we open our mouths for the first note of this old favorite. At that very moment, our young prodigy blasts out a rendition of the first note which sounds much like the “huuuuuuunnnnnnnnnngggggggg” of a fog horn at sea.

It was then that Pastor Steve experienced a terrible attack of self doubt. You see, the instant he opened his mouth, all he could hear was the “huuuuuuunnnnnnnnnngggggggg” of the alto sax and, for one prolonged, panicked moment thought, “Good heavens! Is that ME?” He clamped his jaw shut and was both profoundly glad (that it wasn't him making that terrible racket), and profoundly dismayed (that the sound was, indeed, real and ongoing).

We sang all fifty three verses of that hymn that morning.

At least that’s how it felt.
When Pastor Steve (whom I call hubs) told me about his horrible existential experience I laughed until I thought my spleen would burst.
Which brings us to last Sunday.
While we were utterly saxophone-less this particular Sunday, we were still as musically challenged as ever. Practice didn’t go so well, and Pastor Steve was concerned about the slow timing (read “completely off to the point of actually rewriting the songs”). Since he was helping me lead, he took it upon himself to ensure that everyone, singers and piano players alike came in on the right beat.
He was adamant about this.
Did I mention we were singing Blessed Assurance?
We were.
So, as the piano player warbled through the intro, Pastor Steve began stomping his foot to what should have been the correct timing of the hymn. I glanced at him, noticing he was a bit redder in the face than usual.
Finally, the first note of the hymn arrived. I put away the book I had been reading to pass the time until this moment arrived, and took a big breath-
Pastor Steve, feeling blessedly un-assured, decided to belt out the note, just to ensure we all got it right. Unfortunately, his forceful “BLESSed” came out like a sick sheep with a megaphone – blasting us all with the first note and sounding not unlike that alto sax from a few weeks ago.
It was at that moment that I lost all control. The absurd noise coming from my husband’s mouth, combined with the memory of what had happened with our young sax player caused me to roar with laughter.
Did I mention I was leading the music?
I was.
Well, I meant to be.
But, try as I might, I couldn’t get control of myself. Every time I thought I’d gotten some modicum of control back, I’d hear the sound in my head and laugh even harder.
At one point I was having trouble breathing, I was laughing so hard.
That’s when Pastor Steve started laughing too.
Three verses, plus chorus.
The pastor and his wife hootin’ and hollerin’, stompin’ and snortin’, completely unable to knock it off and be serious.
It wasn’t Mozart, but it certainly was a JOYful noise.
Be encouraged today. Go make a joyful noise for Jesus.


Marci said...

Oh, Bonnie, can I ever relate! Our new little church is more than a little musically challenged too. Thanks for the laugh - I'm sure the Lord was guffawing in heaven too! ;)

Linda Wegner said...

I absolutely loved this! Not only is your writing terrific, our little church struggles with the same issues...except we haven't heard got a guitar or sax to play with (pun intended). It's so refreshing to laugh over a situation - even beats "travailing in prayer" over something that's the "way it is."

Linda Wegner said...

oops - extra word in there. No I'll have to add "edit blogs and comments more carefully" to my to-do list.

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