Writing this meditation about a manger scene I witnessed many years ago brought back memories of other experiences in the church that deepened my faith in sometimes unexpected ways. Since my husband’s death just a few months ago, these memories have become even more precious to me.
As a pastor’s wife, I was given the gift of being able to share whatever talents I had that fit the needs of whatever congregation we were serving, thereby helping to strengthen both their faith and my own. Some of the most meaningful encounters I had were with the children and youth.
Over the years in various locations, I served as a youth leader, a youth teacher, and director of a youth choir and several musicals that were popular during the early ‘80s. My favorite was Ken Medema’s “Story-Tellin’ Man.”
I also directed several handbell choirs involving both adults and youth. Since that particular musical instrument demands concentration and close cooperation with others in the group, but can be mastered in a short amount of time, it was particularly suited to match the needs of growing teenagers. Most recently, I was blessed to work with a team of very talented members of the church that I now attend to create several unique Vacation Bible School programs that were popular with the children.
Writing about the handbells made me think about a project I started long ago but never finished. It was supposed to be a book of prayers from members of a fictional youth handbell choir that followed all the twists and turns of the group over the course of a year and could be used to start or end each weekly rehearsal. I’m not sure it’s worth completing now, since I’m guessing there are fewer and fewer youth handbell groups in congregations and more in school settings. But maybe God is giving me a hint that I still have more to give? Due to some physical and mental limitations as I age, I can no longer direct or play my precious bells. But maybe I can still write about them?
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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