Thursday, December 23, 2004

Reflections on a Holiday

Oh dear! I'll have to change the title of today's post, I didn't use the word Christmas! ;-) But seriously, let's reflect for a moment on this great holiday. For years (and even today, I'll freely admit) I have looked forward to this day because I get to see my family and create an unholy mess when I destroy the wrapping paper on my gifts. My cousin Charley and I took great delight each year in seeing how much paper we could strew around my grandmother's living room! These days, however, we seem to be a lot neater, though I'm sure Grandmother would disagree. Recently, Deaf Cafe had their first ever Christmas event. It was, to be blunt, hell in a handbasket. No one was ready, despite knowing since August what was going to happen. I had told the team that I would write a full Christmas production, and all they had to do was pick their parts and tell me what music they wanted to do for it. However, the team decided at the last minute (immediately after Thanksgiving) that they didn't want a big Christmas program. Out went my meticulously crafted program (the result of late nights and weekends when I had no homework), and back I went to the drawing board. In three days (give or take a day) I rewrote the entire thing, gave the team the exact same deal mentioned above, and waited. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No amount of reminding, and not a little cajoling, could get anything done. So finally, at the extreme last minute (the Tuesday before the show), I just started assigning stuff. However, it was revealed that fully 2/3 of the team would not be in attendance. Sheesh. So we were limited to a crew of 6. Out of 15 (I think) total. So we asked my good friend and new roommate Nick (who is a tech god) to step in and do tech for us, and thankfully he agreed. Little did Nick and I know that this was only the beginning of struggles. Well, we arrived Saturday to prepare for the show, and discover that absolutely nothing in the tech area at the church we were using was labeled. We couldn't find anything! This perturbed me greatly, but none more so than Nick. Lord Voyager, as he is nicknamed, is the type of person who will not let hell nor high water deter him (until he gets pissed off, that is), so he wrestled the tech area and bent it to his will. But this nearly became for naught, as the team basically refused to leave him alone to do his work! Constantly changing things after settings were agreed on, frequent intrusions (not counting my own intrusions to make sure he was okay), children running amok despite our longstanding rule for team members to leave the kids at home, total and unequivocal hell. Nick was, to put it politely, not happy. Finally, I'd had enough, and declared to Deaf Cafe's bossman that where tech was concerned, what Nick says, goes, and if they don't like it, that was just tough. The other option was no tech at all. Total disgust on my part. The tech area quickly became a "Nick and Stephen Only Zone," which quite thankfully I was able to remove myself from almost totally, knowing Nick's technical prowess as well as I do. I can say I achieved my goal of basically becoming Nick's gofer where tech was concerned. He might say otherwise, but hey--it's my dang blog and I'll say what I want to. ;-) We finally got through three full run-throughs of the show with music, and I was far from pleased. My mind, tortured from "Bloopers"-style slip ups in my lines and that of others, was running at Mach 3. No one, NO ONE was ready for this! I silently declared in my mind that this will never happen again. Totally and completely unprofessional. Well, showtime neared, and I made a point to mill around and get my head clear. The team prayed, and afterwards I just wandered around the auditorium with no real purpose in mind. Then I noticed Steve (Deaf Cafe's bossman) sitting off in a darkened corner of the auditorium and decided that was a good idea. I shared today's post with him in abbreviated format and discovered he shared my feelings. Thank goodness. Then showtime came. Can you say "shabbat shalom?" The show, quite frankly, kicked muchus tuchus. For the first time ever, we had perfect tech! Heck, I knew with Nick in charge the only thing that would "ruin" the tech was if we had a power outage. Yes, this is a shameless shout out to the tech god named Lord Voyager! But see, every Deaf Cafe has been like this--a monumental struggle just to get to showtime, and then a flawless or near-flawless performance. More proof that God is God and ain't nuttin' stoppin' that Fatha'! Okay, okay, I'll throw the Ebonics out the window now. The more I reflected on this trend of ours, the more distressed I became, especially during the show itself. But we reached a point in the show when I was going to sing "Mary, Did You Know?" by Mark Lowry. I had set this song very poignantly--Mary and Joseph kneeling in the stable next to a newborn baby Jesus laying in his manger (okay, it was a "borrowed" life-size nativity set Jesus). I sat behind them in the position the angel usually takes in every nativity scene you see. As the song went on, the words just pierced my heart and cut through the layers of frustration and attitude I had developed throughout the afternoon. I felt like I really was the angel who watches over them. As I "asked" the different questions the song asks the young Mary, I couldn't help but think of Mary watching Jesus die on the cross. I nearly broke at least 4 times during this song. I had to exert a great effort of will to compose myself. When it was all over, this is what was running through my head: Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give His life on a cross? Mary, did you know, that your baby boy would pierce your heart with His loss? Did you know that your baby boy would die for all our sins? The Child will fight the Devil, and He shall win! That, my friends, is the true meaning of Christmas. That's why we struggled through that hellish day. If Jesus had never come, there would never be a song by Mark Lowry. There would never be a Deaf Cafe. Heck, it's quite possible none of us would be here today if not for Jesus! Think about that. "If Jesus had never come, would I be here today?" The Son truly does bring life. And He wants you to have that life abundantly. The greatest gift of all time is the gift of Life. And that Life is in God's Son, Jesus Christ. If He had never come, you might never have been born. Shouldn't you repay Him by accepting Him as your Lord and Savior? Shouldn't you show your thankfulness by wanting to live with Him forever in Heaven? He's already given the greatests gifts you could ever receive through His birth, death, and rising from the dead. Give Jesus the best present he could ever receive from any of us--your faith and love.

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