The choir and the band: A modern-day parable

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Sarah grew up on a farm. As a child she would go down to the paddock and watch the sheep feeding. She loved to sing to God. She would look up at the sky and imagine that God was looking down at her. As she sang to Him, He was smiling. Later she would recall these times and the close feelings she had for God. Unfortunately, while she was growing up, some people made fun of her singing so she stopped. Many years later she met up with a sympathetic voice teacher and began the journey of learning to sing again.

Not long after starting voice lessons, Sarah relocated and needed to find another church. She looked on the web and found a church not too far from her new home. On her first visit to the church she was in luck: there was a lunch and she was invited to stay. While eating lunch a middle-aged man with a bright smile came over to her and introduced himself. He said, “Hi, my name is George and I’m the choir director. Do you sing?”

Sarah hesitantly replied, “Not really, I haven’t sung in years and I’ve just started taking lessons.”

George responded, “That’s not a problem. We take new singers into our choir and put them alongside more experienced singers and they can learn from them. I’d really like you to join our choir. It doesn’t matter that you think you can’t sing because virtually everyone has a singing voice inside them, they just need help in discovering that voice.”

“I don’t know,” replied Sarah.

“Let me introduce you to June,” said George. “She has been with our choir for two years now.” And so it was that Sarah and June started chatting.

June invited Sarah to visit her home on Sunday afternoon. While sharing a cuppa together, Sarah asked June about her singing experiences and the songs she was familiar with. June gave Sarah a CD with some of the popular songs that the choir sang. Noticing that Sarah was a little hesitant about singing, June suggested that she come along to the next choir practice just to see what they were doing. June offered to pick Sarah up from her home and take her to the practice. Sarah explained that she was worried about joining the choir as she did not read music. June explained that many people start singing by becoming familiar with a piece of music even when they can’t read music.

Over the next six months June and Sarah caught up on a weekly basis and June helped Sarah learn some of the songs the choir sang. During the choir practices June had Sarah stand next to her so that she could learn the songs. A firm friendship developed and Sarah’s singing improved. Recently the choir director asked Sarah to sing a solo.

Frank sees himself as a rhythm man. He has been playing drums in his garage for about three years. If you ask Frank what he likes about playing drums, he’ll say, “Rhythm reminds me of God. Music is something that God created and rhythm is an essential part of music. God’s rhythm can be seen in the seasons, in the tides, during storms and in animals—dogs barking and birds singing.”

Like Sarah, Frank has been looking for a church. Frank discovered one of his colleagues, Sam, is a Christian and Frank asked him where he went to church. Sam shared with him about his church and invited Frank to attend.

On Frank’s first visit he paid a lot of attention to the music. He enjoyed watching the enthusiasm of the band. After the service, Sam spotted him and went over for a chat. Frank commented how he’d enjoyed the music and that he played the drums himself. Sam took him to meet Don the drummer. Frank asked Don about the band. “We’ve been together eight years and the last two years we have played at Easter Fest. I need to tell you, this year we got an honourable mention,” said Don.

“How often do you play at church?” asked Frank.

“We have three established bands and so, unfortunately I only get to play every third week here,” replied Don. “Me and my mates get together at Joe’s house—he’s the lead guitarist— every Wednesday night. You’re welcome to come along, but I have to tell you we don’t have any openings for a drummer right now.”

“Thanks,” mumbled Frank as he left the church. He didn’t return.

Lyn Daff challenges readers to think about creating a welcoming and inclusive church.

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