by Danielle Lemieux, Director of Music for Children & Youth
I am always amazed by what I learn from children. Whether working with the many St. Mark’s children’s choirs, youth ensembles, Sunday School classes or St. Mark’s Preschoolers, I’m always looking for God’s hand in the learning, sharing and relationship building I get to do with each young person. The thing that is most refreshing about all children and youth is how completely honest and unabashedly questioning they are about life. Here are some of my reflections on working with some of our youngest children in the 2012 Preschool Christmas Program, Song of the Stars, December 2012…
Starting in mid-October, I started teaching the Sunday school preschool classes and Little Angels Choir the two songs they were to sing for the Christmas program. I always love teaching the stories presented through song and I knew there were several words to Away in a Manger and The Friendly Beasts that they would not necessarily yet know, that I would need to teach. Because we were doing more than just one verse and refrain, as most children’s songs are, I began wondering a little if the children would be able learn them in time for the program. We struggled along for about a month and a half, and a couple of weeks before the program date, they started to get them – in late October, I would ask them what certain words meant and few would respond correctly at first, then into December, most knew the meanings to words such as “manger” and “lowing.”
During the program while the narrators were telling the story, the children enthusiastically responded to the narrator’s prompt – IT’S TIME! HE’S COMING! HE’S HERE! In fact, one little boy even went outside of the practiced prompts and repeated at great volume the additional narration, deemed by the adult leaders (myself among them) to be too hard for the children to repeat – I know the Spirit was involved at this point! At the Saturday dress rehearsal, the children were not particularly responsive to Pastor Rebecca’s questions about the Christmas story, but come the actual program, they were spot on in their answers – indeed, they were almost giddy with the rush of sharing the Christmas story with their parents, family and friends, and probably really enjoyed speaking into the microphone as well.
What I’m always amazed by when working to put these programs together is how God is always present in unexpected ways, both in the journey learning and at the presentation of the program itself. When Miss Char and I met to go through how everything would work, I always had in the back of my mind, “I wonder where and how the Spirit will lead these children this year to teach ME something.” And I’m never disappointed!
God is great and unexpected blessings abound for those who are awake to see them, praise the Lord!