Merry Christmas one and all!

We yearn, our Father, for the simple beauty of Christmas -- for all the old familiar melodies and words that remind us of that miracle when He who made all things was one night to come as a Babe, to lie in the crook of a woman's arm.

-- Peter Marshall

So I went to church tonight. I know I told a lot of people I wasn't; after the service two years ago -- the last one at my parent's old church I went to -- no one I knew blamed me for that decision. After all, the one thing I truly loved about Christmas services, the music, had been horribly transfigured and rewritten until the its splendor was unrecognizable.

Let me tell you right now that this was a mistake. From the above quote -- a unison prayer from the service, I can intimate most of the problem. The previous carol sung by the congregation was entitled Good Christians All Rejoice, which was little more than a P.C. version of Good Christian Men Rejoice, and I believe that the latter at least makes a better song lyric anyway. But their true crime was the choir piece that came afterwards: a pop arrangement of We Three Kings which was nothing short of horrendous.

And their musical crimes don't end there. They replaced the wonderful church organ that had been there years before I was born with a theater organ. For those of you who don't know the difference, a church organ has a different set of stops on it than a theater organ, and they allow the church organ to better fill the small confines of a chapel. The sounds are more resonant and, in my opinion, richer and more full of joy. But I can live with that; the old organ was getting old and hard to fix when it broke, and the theater organ was a bargain at $10,000. The crime I find it hard to live with is the synthesizer and the drum set on the stage. And the distinct lack of the bell and children's choirs that I had been a part of in the past.

And there was the patriotic schlock added to a religious service as well....

I find myself regretting that I didn't hold to the promise I made myself two years ago to never grace that particular service with my presence. I know that there are multiple other churches in the area I'd rather go to anyway. So, tonight I say a final farewell to Centerville Presbetyrian Church. Until they have a new choir director -- who respects and doesn't bastardize the songs of old, I will not set foot in their sanctuary. I will instead celebrate the ideals of Christmas in my heart and in my actions, rather than in my public presence at what has become little more than a show-man's spectacle.

And so I wish everybody a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year. May all your hopes and dreams for the future come to pass.

Brian Naberhuis
Last modified: Mon Dec 24 21:04:44 PST 2001