is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sundays With Kimmy

My first article in the Celebrate YOU series featured
Maud Johnson, who has been in choir longer than anyone!

She is the first person a new choir member meets; she
will get you a robe and ask you what you are bringing to
the next potluck and in no time at all, you're in the choir! 
Michael Rintamaa at the piano, Linda Reeb and
Anabelle Gatton-Wright warm up the children's choir
in the Evans Music Room
Years ago I read Tuesdays With Morrie, a wonderful book by Mitch Albom, that celebrates the life and dignifies the death of a college professor who was Albom's beloved mentor.  Albom seems to get it right, maybe I'm not the best person to make that distinction, but his writing indicates that he doesn't dicker with the legalistic particulars that have served as a wedge between religious factions for thousands of years.  

The point to his tome is that all life is precious, and it is not our duty, but our privilege to care for the sick and dying.  The passage of life is something we all must endure, no matter what our faith (or lack of faith for that matter), and honoring our loved ones as they die is the greatest gift we can have the privilege to give. It is, after all, our final gift.

Sometimes when I come here to the Blogspot throne on Sundays, I feel as if I am writing the same sort of essay --  a weekly visitation with my mentor and best friend -- although obviously would never dare compare myself with a great author like Mitch Albom.  The fact is, though, that Inspiration comes from many a source,  and today by golly, I have Albom's book in mind because today marked a special day as one of my heroes, my choir director, was honored and acknowledged in a special presentation at the end of the worship service.  I have been in the Chancel Choir since 1998, and many of our friends who used to sing in the chancel now sing with the angels, I truly believe that.  So it is with mixed emotions that I send up this offering for Sundays with Kimmy.  I want to dignify their lives as well as those who are still among us without losing purpose.
Mayme Hamby, another one of my heroes, at the
choir Christmas party at the home of Jim & Betty Cecil

This was Mayme's last appearance as the 'saloon pianist,'
for the choir, as she called herself.  She went Home to be with
her beloved Sid last year, but Mayme was like a Mom to me
and I miss her every day.

Today in our church. we celebrated the 20th anniversary of our Director of Music, a/k/a my choir director, Michael Rintamaa.  The presentation was the culmination of a year of careful planning to surprise MR with a book of photography featuring art from the interior and exterior grounds of Central Christian Church.  

The book is magnificent, and was put together by photographer John Lynner Peterson, his wife, Brenda Bartella Peterson, and my 'wicked alto' friends, Betty Cecil, and Anne McGregor, who came up with the idea last year to devote a book to honor Michael...and with the help of Margaret Rintamaa, Michael and his family are recognized in the book of incredible art with 'blast from the past' photos from MR's days at Bryan Station HIgh School as a "hotshot trumpeter" and pix of his and Margaret's wedding as well!
I love the stained glass in the Sanctuary - particularly the
top right one with the cross and the circle - all of the
explanations of the artistry of the church are given in
the special book celebrating Central's Art.  

The book will be sold and proceeds will fund the renovation of the church's pipe organ, which is one of Michael's many active interests in making Central the most musically sound church as possible.  

Yes, I meant to say that.  This is a blog, not a sermon...

Pam Hammonds talks with Dr. Mooty as the kids choir
gets ready to sing! Harry Richart can be seen in the distance.
These photos were not all taken today. This was taken
last year but I love how everyone in the
pic is doing something different.

Michael Mooty visits the choir before worship and
often we have time for a quick pre-processional prayer.

Speaking of sermons, I love it whenever a baby visits worship and decides to become  extremely vocal.  Today's baby must have gotten the memo that it was Pentecost Sunday, because he was punctuating Dr. Mooty's sermon throughout, especially at key moments.  

The show all began just after today's Scripture had been read, and we had just taken our seats. The quote had been "What will we do without you?" and our Minister added, "Yes...what will we do without Jesus?" and not missing a beat, the baby yelled, "YEAAAHHHH!"  As if to say, 'send the Spirit down, let me in on the plans, I want to grow, too!"  Hahah!  I had to chuckle at the little one's exclamations, and was glad that neither Dad nor Mom took the Baby away and out of the Sanctuary.  That kid was all about Jesus, and I was all about the Baby. Good time had by all, ya know?  
Betty Cecil, Me and Jim Cecil
Betty and I are joined at the hip. She told
the congregation today that "20 years ago,
Central Christian sent a 12-year-old to conduct the choir..."
referring to MR's youth at the time.  Even today, he
seems awfully young to take on the Chancel Choir, but
we are blessed to have him
(and p.s. -- he feels the same way :)

As a matter of fact, when the Handbell Choir played What A Friend We Have in Jesus while communion was being served, the little guy or gal was right up front, eyes all wide open, jaw dropped in astonishment, and listening, with her Daddy holding her as everyone enjoyed the gorgeous bells.  (Maybe Mom was in the handbell choir - that happens, too :)

So sigh sigh, and evening is nigh, and I have yet to post this blog I wanted to publish it as soon as I returned home this afternoon, but it's been a contemplative day as well as a day of celebration.  This marking of MR's 20th anniversary causes me to remember the past year during which I wrote fifty essays about members of my choir. Biographies with a choral twist, if you will.  

I was asked to write about each member of my choir in a weekly series to celebrate the Chancel Choir.  MR knew the choir would want to make a big deal out of it with accolades for him, so he nipped it in the bud (or so he thought) over a year ago when he approached me about writing one essay a week, a Celebrate YOU series, about member of the choir.  
Betty Rhodes congratulated Michael on his 20 years with
Central as the line in the reception area of the church filled.

The assignment is nearly complete and it has been a gorgeous time for me to learn all about my choir family, and even more importantly, to write about our special relationships.  To have a weekly assignment writing about people you adore is quite lovely and I am humbled that MR holds my writing in such esteem that he would give me the privilege of writing the chapters of the Chancel Choir lives.  It has been a ministry, this assignment, keeping me balanced when I was anything but balanced, making my faith stronger when my spirits were sinking, and by helping me feel loved when I felt love might be lost on me. 
Choir potluck leftovers - why our motto is
"We sing so that we may eat!"

What is not lost on me is that today as I watch the sun settle into its vermillion boots, I am inspired just as much by the dead and dying as I am with a newborn blessed with outspoken and unfettered utterances of praise.  My fascination with all of the choir is only magnified by glorifying each of the choir.  The first shall be last; last shall be first.  Irony is fun, is it not?  

God has a great sense of humor. I'm learning to laugh at His jokes. I think He likes it when I do.  

I did not seek courage, but I found courage in every story of every choir buddy.  Week after week, I would pick out the next unsuspecting person for me to profile.  I could choose whomever I liked to feature and then ask them to open up about how music and faith are connected personally in their lives.  Most were a breeze, a few were tiny tornadoes, actually, but the calming air of music and faith kept my rudder straight. (Can I say that on the internet?  heh)   It was a labor of love.  Yes, it was just that adorable, and so are all of you, Lambchops, for reading all of this!  
MR checks the sound before worship. He had just warmed
up the handbell choir and was on his way to the choir room.
He is too humble to tell everyone everything that he does,
but it does not go unnoticed. He is selfless and kind and best
of all, he has a musicality that is beyond compare!

So now that the assignment is nearly complete, I will not say that it is over, because the Chancel Choir is ever-expanding.  

I hope to continue to learn the secrets of the choir and somehow cajole them into giving me gorgeous quotes so all I have to do was connect the dots, throw in some musical phrases from anthems here and there and somehow make it all have a common thread.  That thread is our love and respect for each other and for Michael Rintamaa.  

This photo by John Peterson captures the view of our
church as as seen just a few feet from my seat in the Chancel.  

Okay, I've shed enough tears for this alleged day of rest.  Enough about me, let's talk about ME!  lol  I'll stop sharing now and leave you with a prayer we shared in worship today, I hope it brings meaning to you, too:

"Living God, You have created all that is.
Send forth your Spirit to renew and restore us,
That we may proclaim your good news in ways and words
That all will understand and believe.  

Kimmy and my SissyBell, Kelli :)

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