Ding Dong merrily on high volume

I can hear the sound of ringing. No it’s not Christmas bells! Last night I went to a concert with one of the world’s biggest Paul Weller fans, to whom I happen to be married. It was a concert in support of the charity Crisis and Paul Weller was the headline act. It was loud! (And yes I am aware that that may well be a sign that I’m getting older.)

I confess I am not one of the world’s biggest Paul Weller fans, but I recognise that he has written some decent tunes (my wife Sally will claim that is a serious understatement) and is an extremely accomplished musician and singer. I was looking forward to being able to hear him sing some of those songs with which I have become familiar.

mixing deskThe problem I found with last night was that the sound levels were abysmal. Because the volume of the instruments was so high they had to turn up the vocal mics even higher and the voices were distorting terribly. We could not hear the lyrics and even one of the world’s biggest Paul Weller fans was struggling to discern what he was singing. I could not understand why the sound technicians were not doing something about it until I stood near the back where they were based and discovered that it sounded better where they were stood (albeit not perfect).

Reflecting on this experience, and with ringing still in my ears, first of all I want to speak up on behalf of sound and video technicians in churches. They are always the unsung heroes if everything goes smoothly because nobody notices them. If there is a loud squeak, however, or the wrong slide comes up on the screen then everybody notices. I was at a church recently where there were one or two technical problems. I got really irritated by a man who was stood right in front of me who insisted on turning around and staring at the technicians every time something went wrong. In the end I shifted slightly so that I was stood between him and them in an effort to protect them and perhaps persuade him to concentrate on worshipping Jesus.

So first of all, two pleas on behalf of our sound and video technicians. The first is that if something goes wrong, try to avoid turning around and staring at them. It won’t help them, they’re trying their best, they know something is wrong. The second is to encourage you to thank them, acknowledge their contribution that has enabled you to worship Jesus.

The other thing that I reflected on from last night’s experience is to ask whether you are able to hear the lyrics. Sometimes the volume of all our preparations for Christmas is so loud that we are unable to hear the good news of Immanuel. Sometimes we are so busy rushing around, sorting out, planning, making sure everything is in place that the volume of the hassle and bother drowns out the voice saying, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” And I’m not just talking about all our present buying, wrapping, card writing, food buying and so on. In churches we can get so busy preparing everything for Carol services, nativity plays and so on that even though we are desperate for others to hear the message of Christmas, we can’t hear it ourselves.

What is God saying to you this Christmas?

Be blessed, be a blessing

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