For some reason, lately I have been thinking about the Christmas program in my first parish. It was on Sunday morning on the third or fourth Sunday of Advent. Sometimes the Sunday School teachers would ask me for advice about the program; was there a theme or a script that I knew about? Sometimes they had their own idea, and I had very little input, except to open and close with prayer.
What I am remembering right now, though, is not the program itself, but the prelude. No one asked me about this either. The Christmas program prelude was a tradition that had begun long before I arrived, and it would continue whether I approved of it or not. No one was asking permission.
The regular organist did not play the prelude on that particular Sunday. Instead, the prelude was played by any chidden who were taking music lessons and wanted to play. They ranged in age from four to twelve, and were all ability levels. Some children played Silent Night with one finger. Some children played a recital piece. They were mostly piano students, but there was occasionally a flute, or a violin.
I keep thinking about the Christmas Program Prelude, and contrasting it with the impressive music at some of the larger churches around. But I wonder if there is room for the Christmas program prelude.
Every church has different strengths and different faults. But some churches have a particular strength: the ability to recognize the gifts of all ages, and even welcome them.