Monday, March 14, 2011

Notes from YouthCUE Knoxville 2011

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I am indebted to Mary Ann for filling in for me while I was away with the teenagers over the weekend. We ended up taking 12 of our Youth Choir members … and would have been able to take more had it not been for sports-related conflicts. Our teenagers are team players in every respect, and I applaud those who couldn’t go for their commitments to their team-mates.
YouthCUE has a lot in common with team sports. It always involves hard work, and each choir member plays a significant role as a team member. Each choir is expected at least to be familiar with the music beforehand, and Sunday afternoon’s concert is sung all from memory. We were in rehearsals for over two hours on Friday night, and most of the day Saturday (reasonable breaks were allowed, of course). Sunday morning we served as the worship choir for the 11:00 worship service of FBC, Knoxville.

Kyle Matthews came as a chaperone and bus driver for the FBC, Greenville group. Because I blew his cover (sorry, Kyle), YouthCUE asked him to lead the Sunday morning devotion for the participants, and to share a couple of his songs as a part of the worship service Sunday afternoon. I cannot recall all that he so artfully told us on Sunday morning, but his three points were:
  1. The best things in this world are experienced together.
  2. The deepest truths of life are best communicated through art.
  3. Worship is important enough to require discipline.

Just before the service started Sunday morning, the organist who had been in rehearsal with us on Saturday assisted an elderly woman, bent over by age with arthritic hands, to the organ bench. I looked in the worship bulletin, found her name, and immediately assumed that Mary Eleanor Pickle had probably played piano some in her earlier years and was taking organ lessons to keep her mind and body active in her senior years, and that she had spent months preparing a piece that they were letting her play for the prelude. How sweet of them. As soon as she started to play, however, I learned how wrong my assumptions were.
Mary Eleanor Pickle is an extraordinarily gifted professional organist who has been playing organ for decades. Though her arthritic hands can no longer play quite as perfectly as they obviously once did, the joy of her heart translates through the instrument, encouraging even the most unmusical in the congregation to at least try to sing. Seldom have I heard an organ played more musically than she did. Because she disciplined herself to learn and practice her instrument, Mary Eleanor Pickle communicated deep truths of God through her art, and helped to bring a scattered group of people together in worship.

That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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