Congregation as Chorale, Our Energy for this Ensemble

I write often for the church–weekly sermons/messages, weekly emails, monthly newsletters, and so on. The materials I create rarely make their way here, to our more public-facing space. In the spirit of offering insight that revives our congregation and is meaningful to others, here is a past newsletter article, written in November 2015 and every bit as relevant today.

Friends of Enfield American Baptist Church,

I made a promise to myself last spring that I would make time for singing this year. Of course I have the joy and gift of singing in the midst of our congregation every Sunday, but I also wanted the experience of singing formally with an ensemble–working together on pieces we learn, polish, and ultimately perform. I chose in September to join the Farmington Valley Chorale, and each Sunday evening you can find me in Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation-Emek Shalom from 7-9:15 p.m., “finding my voice again.”

I could write a weekly newsletter reflection from all that I learn watching the director. She is energetic, demanding–yet playful, and she brings the best of herself week after week, despite the late hour and whatever concerns she might be carrying. I found myself in my first rehearsals looking back on our time of worship that morning to inquire if I had done the same–did I bring my full energy? Did I invite the congregation to be part of something significant and meaningful? Did I bring the best of myself–and the best of Jesus and the Christian story–to our gathering in Enfield? Generally, I answer, “Yes,” and then consider the “something more” that I can continue to bring to Enfield American Baptist. Of course there are days…

Lately, I’ve been looking more at my participation as a member of the ensemble. It won’t surprise you that I am good and tired by Sunday night. Most evenings, I say that I do not want to go, and I ask Matt to remind me how satisfied I’ll feel when I come home after a night of singing. Once or twice, I’ve been present in body, but my full self has not been there singing. While at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, I missed a rehearsal; when I returned to practice, I was astonished at how out of step I felt from just one Sunday away. As we near our December performances, I am realizing being able to give the best of myself as a member of the chorale will require time on my own at home, reviewing difficult parts, hearing the context of the full piece in recordings provided for us, and practicing passages.

I’ve been thinking about how like the life of a congregation this chorale experience is for me. When we have our full membership present, our sound is more full, our conversations more rich, and our prayers more reflective of all our lives. When people are dedicated to praying and studying scripture at home, we are enriched by what they are learning individually; I always appreciate when one of you shares with me a devotional or passage you’ve been considering. If, like me, sometimes it is hard to get moving on a Sunday, I hope you will find that it is always worth the effort. This is our gift to God and God’s gift to us.

Peace, Pastor Jennifer Sanborn

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