Protestant churches have a tradition of the annual church concert, sometimes linked to the church anniversary functions or as an annual set-aside social evening.
The church concert traditionally has an astonishing array of talent (or not so talented) whereby members of the congregation with either selected groups of people or functioning church missional groups put together a skit of some sort and on they go.
The fun of the evening is not so much the theatrical excellence of the participants, although some have misplaced giftedness in their day jobs, rather it is seeing those staid and serious members of the church let down their hair and one sees a totally different side to their characters.
The old adage that you never know what happens behind closed doors in families, shows its colours as being beyond reproof when the stunted actor reveals their true funny bone (as it were) at the church concert. This is where the 'painted face' for Sunday church consumption comes off.
I can recall many a church concert when as a lad growing up in Canberra Baptist Church the annual church concert along with the Easter Youth Camp were where we'd see the other side of those whom we thought we knew as someone serious and sombre suddenly came alive with laughter and hilarity.
Every church we've been involved have had these church concerts and some years ago now at the Banora Point Baptist Church had its anniversary church concert function with all the usual candidates coming out of their proverbial boxes. One thing for certain, in this church as in the others, this is not the time for a boring poem to be read or a blessed elderly sister to sing the philharmonic speciality.
One year my wife Delma and I did a skit, this one titled “Our first date” - which was introduced as two young people from the church youth group, and well versed with their bibles. It was set on a park bench and we introduced ourselves and developed the conversation and relationship all the way to a proposal (in 7 minutes) by quoting romantic bible serves to each other.
The funniest things were that there wasn't a sound in the audience, everyone was listening intently, and afterwards so many came to Delma and seriously asked her whether that truly the way she met Mark. We must have been very convincing.
Another year our skit took a slightly different tact. This time it was our “first kiss”. We set up 15 scenarios, some of them with props from helpers, whereby we came within millimetres of our first kiss (as in the movies when the two about to kiss are disturbed). One prop was of the oldies hitting me with her walking stick. Another was being disturbed by a phone call (yes, we realise there were not mobile phones back in 1972), another had someone calling out for an item and so on.
Finally, on the 16th scenario, I raise Delma up from her seat, kiss her hand and bow, she in turn curtsies, we turned to the audience and bow (the great let down) then as we turn, I grabbed Delma and bought her down in the classic of bowled over in my arms and thereupon finish the job with the biggest of all slobbers! (to much applause).
(That reminds me, when our four children were teenagers, the biggest of all threats for not getting to do a chore done, was to for dad (me) to slobber up my mouth with the most disgusting spit with bubbles and threaten them with a slobber! They'd jump tall buildings with a single bound, run faster than a speeding bullet and escape with more determination than a powerful locomotive than to be confronted with one of dad's slobbers).
Church concerts are fun. Church concerts reveal a whole different side to those in the congregation. Church concerts are part of the vibrant congregation where people don't have a need to be on show all the time.
Moreover there are several biblical announcements relating to something similar to a church concert.
Perhaps when Moses' staff tuned into a snake and ate the prophets of Pharaoh staff that had also tuned into a snake. There would have been a few smirks with that little number.
What of the axe head that flew off into the river and raised itself – now that would have been true-blue church concert material. Elisha would have needed quite a number of curtain calls.
Then there was Jonah doing the vanishing act, got swallowed by a great fish, and turned up doing what he was called to do in the first instant. That's a good'n for the audience.
In the New Testament we see where the tax is in the fish. Got to pay your tax! We might even dare to see where Agatha Christie got her “Who done it” scenarios. Look at Acts where Annaias and Sapphire tried that trick – not me!
What about when Paul gets struck by the viper coming out of the bonfire. He didn't drop dead. That's a tale to tell. And what of Paul turning up before the King who is so (almost) persuaded by the message, that he admits it before the entire royal court – now that's a church concert centre piece if ever there was one!
Yes, enjoy the church concert, do your bit of hilarious acting and conviviality.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html