"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Grace Grieving 2: Not welcome in choir

     Rehearsals for the Easter service begin tomorrow night. For the first time in Jerry's 36 years here at Grace and my 8 years married to him, we won't be participating in them.
     We've been told we are no longer welcome to sing in the choir.
     Yesterday, we received a letter from one of the basses, stating that since we stand against our church leadership, we would be hypocrites to sing at Easter. (As my gatekeeper, Jerry suggested I not read the actual letter.) I wanted to tell this man that we have no problem with our real church Leadership (capital L). He's the One we sing to and sing about. Where the leadership fails to submit to His authority, we cannot in good conscience submit to their authority. Acts 5:29.
     It hurt but this was just one member's opinion. Jerry emailed the gist of his letter to Jessie, our choir director, adding, "Please let us know as soon as possible if this is also your view. We do not want to cause dissension in the choir and would appreciate your opinion."
      I was confident the choir director would overrule him. She is a young woman with such an exuberant love for God and music, such a profound mastery of the craft and of communicating it that it has always been a privilege to sit under her direction. I've told her often that it is like--no, it is--studying under a godly, musically gifted professional--for free. Painful experiences in a very shy childhood convinced me I could not sing. But Jerry encouraged me to take choir with him and for a couple of years I glued myself to Donna, who reads music and has a clear accurate alto. I'd copy her notes and expression, singing "solo" I couldn't hear myself. Gradually Jerry, Jessie and Donna brought out the confidence in me that even my joyful noise honors the Lord. To my own surprise, I had actually begun to like singing.
     Jessie has never indicated that she is on either "side" of this tragedy. She always stresses that in choir we are united in our praise and worship of Jesus Christ.
     But she sought us out after this morning's service and said that although it is hard for her because she loves us, she agrees with the choir member. We have hurt people in the choir through this blog. Unless we repent, we are not welcome back.   
     I hurt for Jerry, because the choir was always a big part of why he was here. Between marriages, when other groups in Grace started taking turns leading worship (good as they are), and choir shrank down to rehearsals for two occasions, Christmas and Easter, he made the rounds of other churches. Actually I was doing the same thing between my marriages--looking for another church.
     On February 1, 2004, we both "happened" to be back at Grace and that's the day God brought us together. We got engaged two weeks later on Valentine's Day and were married before the entire congregation on May 2. We have attended Grace (again) ever since. We're certain God drew us back to this church.
     We love Jessie. She has to do what she believes God is calling her to do and we have to keep doing what we believe God is calling us to do. We ask God daily to speak truth to any lies we believe and we stand ready, moment by moment, to repent to anyone anywhere for anything if God convicts us of sin. I hope those who stand against us are doing the same. 

*Jessie Flasschoen has a BA and a credential in music from Cal State Long Beach. She needs a job and I hope someone reading this can offer her one worthy of her briliance. I'm serious!

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