Christmas is why I do what I do so it should be easy right?
In the late 80’s I sat in my church and was blown away at the lights, sounds and spectacle that was a David Carpenter production. I found my way to the sound booth and asked how I could get involved. The rest is history.
I had mentors like Gary Houk, Al Hornung, Orlando Juarez and in later years, Richard Foster. They taught me about the technology and the flow of a production. Over the last two decades I have lived to do Christmas productions.
The last three years I had not been on staff at a church so I just got to sit and watch everyone else do Christmas productions. I went through some depression over it, but was cheered up when I would get texts and tweets of pictures from people across the country who were inspired by sets I had designed. I felt like I was still in the game.
This year I am back at a Church. Our pastor came to me and said “Let’s do a production this year!” I was very excited. I sat down to plan and….. NOTHING!!!
Every aspect of this show was super difficult to come by. Every logo, every font, every song…. nothing was right. There were some inherent challenges. I now work for an African American church so I had to nail the cultural aspects of music, family, dancing, and such. Also this church is not a production culture so no one had a framework of what it looked like to do a major production. I would talk about it in meetings and small gatherings and people were excited but also had that “He’s so crazy” look in their eye. I knew I had to go the extra mile and just make it happen and then the body as a whole would get it… hopefully!!!
In October we went away to Branson, MO so my kids could spend some time with my dad. I had to clear my head on this trip and get direction for Christmas. I had gone to the middle of the country, where I only encountered 3 Black people on my entire trip, to try to create a production for an urban Black church…… GOOD LUCK WITH THAT!!!!
One morning Simone and I had a slight disagreement and thought it best to spend some time apart for the day. I found myself in the corner of a Starbucks. I sat there for the next 5 hours. I scoured the internet for music I felt would work. I am not even sure what led to it but I found 3 albums that had some of the coolest Christmas music I had ever heard. I sat there and wrote treatments, designed costumes and came up with dance styles for every song. I was super excited. I loaded the playlist onto my phone and went off to do some fishing with my kids and Simone. I listened to the songs over and over for the 10 hour drive home the next day.
Every song I chose that day in the middle of the country made it to the show. It was humbling to see the manifestation of my coffee shop scribbles as it caused my church family to laugh, cry, sing, dance, and see the heart of God in the Christmas story. In doing so, the production instantly won the hearts of the people whom I serve.