I rejoined the choir after taking a long sabbatical. Today was my first Sunday singing again.
We sang a beautiful song with the orchestra called "I Am." Mom plays the piano, so I went early with her for orchestra practice. They were working on the song for the offertory, which included a tympany part--and I was seated directly behind the tympany with Meghan. I expected her to sit bolt upright like Dori used to do; but she just startled. I petted her while the practice was going on and encouraged her to stay down. I later discovered that the choir is usually seated in mixed formation now, so I was seated for performance at the left end (used to be the alto section), farthest from the tympany. I was a bit nerbous about this arrangement because it meant that when we came onstage at the opening of service, Meghan and I would be the second to enter and would have to walk down the steps where the top rows of chairs are and around the piano and then all the way across the front row without her sniffing or pushing me off the step, and I didn't want to put too much distance between me and the person ahead of me or look like I was running a marathon. Meg did a great job and even slid herself under the chair without me manhandling her for first service. The entry for second service was much less graceful, but the exits were good and overall I was very proud of her.
I realized that even though choir is less "my thing" than solo or small group performances, it's a good thing for me to do. I need the vocal exercise badly, and this is a good way for me to stay in shape. I do like the left end. With the current configuration of my hearing, I think it allows me to take advantage of my tendency to turn toward the right and be more alert to what is going on. It also puts me in position to see the audience without appearing to look away. I may not always be able to count on these accommodations, and I don't feel right asking for them on a permanent basis--if some other soprano came in who needed right end seating and he wanted us in sections, it wouldn't be good to be competing over accommodations. So I want to be flexible enough to be able to sing wherever he needs me to be seated. But the perspective today was very empowering.
The disadvantage of singing with the choir again is that I miss much of the Sunday school lesson if I sing during second service. I haven't figured out how to manage this conflict--I feel like I need the meat of the lesson; but at the same time I feel a responsibility to the choir. If all the choir members sang only during the first service and opted out so that they could go to class during second service, there would be a problem with second service. I don't suppose there is an easy solution. A part of me wishes someone (like Steve) would just tell me what to do. But that isn't fair. I need to be mature and do the best I can with the situation; and I suspect that Steve would tell me that I need to weigh what's in my heart and do what God is leading me to do and sing when I can. The Sunday school classes are extremely tolerant of choir members coming in late; but that's not really the point. The point is the teaching and group study that I miss.
Today I made it in for about the last five minutes. Fortunately, we do have a book and I will be able to catch up on things that I've missed. One of the things that I did get to hear was the reading of a passage of Scripture; and I want to put it here because I found it so meaningful. It's one of my favorite passages and is something that I've been meditating on for a few months anyway. But the wording in this particular version caught my attention because it was more understandable even than the NIV.
So this I say and solemnly testify in [the name of] the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the heathen (the Gentiles) do in their perverseness [in the folly, vanity, and emptiness of their souls and the futility] of their minds.
Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature].
In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand].
But you did not so learn Christ!
Assuming that you have really heard Him and been taught by Him, as [all] Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him],
Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion;
And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude],
And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God's image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another.( B)
When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down.
Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him].
Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need.
Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God's own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin).
Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind).
And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:17-32, Amplified)
The meat of the passage (vv. 25-32), for me, in the message, is equally powerful.
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry--but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. 27Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can't work.
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. 32Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.,