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I’m sitting here listening to Mannheim Steamrollers’ God Rest You Merry Gentlemen as tears stream down my face. I’ve always loved this rendition. And I’ve always loved this carol. For whatever reason, not a reason I can express verbally, it was my favorite growing up.

I can close my eyes and see the view from the top of the Living Christmas Tree. I am at the top, about 18 feet above the pews. I am the star, literally. I’m not the main performer, but I am at the top of the tree alone, right where the star is. As the youngest person in choir I sort of wheedled my way up there, claiming to be the smallest person, the best candidate to fit into that smug spot. In fact many of the women were smaller than I, petite little souls, but none of them cared much. I was about 16 or 17 and I wanted to be the star.

This song played during the intermission. The house lights came up and I could finally see the audience and they could see me. It was an odd feeling, still being in the tree I couldn’t move much but my eyes followed the ushers up and down the rows as they collected donations for the program and our orchestra filled the church with the glorious music.

I cry remembering it now because this is the church I loved. This is what I want to remember. It was beautiful. Everything about it, the music, the lights, the joy, the people. I even loved the long hours of practice leading up to the program. I would go to school, then to work, then rehearsal but I didn’t care. I was the only one under 40 years old but I didn’t care. It made me feel special.

The Christmas Eve service we would be up there again for one song then down with our families. The solemnity, the beauty, the candle lit Silent Night. Perhaps I’m simply an overly sentimental person but my heart ached with such gorgeousness.

When I was really young we would then go home to my grandmother’s house, along with half the church, she was the hostess with the mostess. Soups, appetizers, punch. The kids crowded around the TV watching Charlie Brown, Precious Moments and later, The Muppets. I want to remember that. My grandmother can no longer.

I want to remember that church but I cry because as beautiful as it was it was only for a few weeks a year. It was only one small portion and the rest wasn’t nearly as beautiful.

The rest was filled with misogyny, hypocrisy, back-biting….but it had its moments.

I just listened to Bob Jones III argue with a woman regarding BJU’s actions regarding sexual assault at the school and his tone and comments devastated me. I really do want to believe that the church can do good. I know it molded me when I was young and not all that it taught me was bad, not all that I interacted there were bad but then I see something like that and I just wonder why, why it should be allowed to continue.

When does the good outweigh the bad or vice-versa?

 

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