Did any of you see the wonderful ‘Choir’ series on the telly recently? I did and what an uplifting tale of one person’s vision for a community being realised so effectively. For those of you unfamilliar with the concept, Gareth Malone, a choirmaster goes into a community, be that a school or, in the case of series 3, an actual community (South Oxhey) and transforms the people therein through the power of communal singing.
Previously, I gather, he has done this in schools but this time he has taken on all ages from all areas of the town and merged them into a cohesive, and not unpleasant sounding, group of singers. The effect this has had on the town of South Oxhey was quite startling. Here we have a singing group that consists of what were 3 or 4 disparate (and previously non-existant) singing groups. The climax of the series was the South Oxhey Festival, a one day event on a bank holiday to which the whole town was invited to celebrate all that was good about South Oxhey and, of course, hear the choir sing.
To see the pride the partcipants and the watching crowd had in their town was inspiring.
To hear the comments about meeting new people and making new friends made me think back to my time at church. This is apposite as I was invited to a service this weekend on what is known as ‘(please, please, please) come back to church sunday (we’re desperate for people but not so much as we would actually change anything about the way we do anything to make it any more appealing in any way)’. The ‘church’ want us all to go back, to return to the fold. We know that you were led astray by the devil but God is still there every Sunday at the same time, doing the same things and he isn’t even a little bit miffed that you haven’t been in a while. So come on, come back and we’ll pretend it never happened, in fact we’ll pretend nothing ever happens, better still we will actually do nothing so we don’t even have to pretend.
I couldn’t help but contrast this notion of going back and returning to that of the choir going forward, trying something new, inspiring and leading people into new experiences. Experiences that enhance their life and build them spiritually and physically. Experiences that bring them together for the communal good. And with no agenda but that. You don’t have to believe, you just have to be.
The church is one of the few organisations that has the wherewithall to do something like Malone has done but it seems too content to sit on it’s collective big backside and ‘beg’ people to come back rather than get out there and do something for meaningful for them.
So, thanks, but no thanks, I won’t be going back any day soon.