One of the ways that I try to strengthen our church’s relationship with All Saints Anglican School is by serving on their School Council. As a member of Council I get to see some aspects that as a parent at the school I might only see when it’s my child’s “turn”. One of those things is their annual Speech Night which was held on Wednesday night this week.
It has been a tough week for the school, with news that one of their teachers, Mr Bob Evans, the head of the school’s bands programs passed away suddenly after a massive heart attack while playing squash on Monday night.
Speech Night traditionally has some of the schools best bands and ensembles playing throughout the night. To their credit, the bands played on despite the loss with some exceptional performances and I felt particularly humbled to have a front row seat. At the end of one of the performances I caught the reaction of Councillor Bob La Castra who looked absolutely gob-smacked at what was a spectacular performance which included a number of solos.
The moment that touched me the most was when ‘All Saints Voices’ the school’s ‘premiere vocal ensemble’ sang a version of the 23rd Psalm. Gaynor Morgan, who is a member of our 9:30am congregation, leads and conducts this group of about a dozen students. As they took their place on stage it was obvious that all of the students had been crying and some of the young men we still visibly in tears. I must admit I did think to myself that it would be tough to actually get through the performance just by looking at their demeanour. But what we were privileged to witness was an absolutely flawless performance which I can describe no other way than as sheer beauty.
I was privileged to have a front row seat to witness beauty emerge from a place of deep pain and sadness.
Part of the beauty was seeing the emotion shared openly and honestly, part of the beauty was the obvious support that held them, part of the beauty was the strength of the faith community that is an obvious part of the school’s identity. But the sum of all of those things can’t equate to the magnitude of the beauty we were gifted that night.
I have no doubt that God has been powerfully at work in that school and amongst those students. I also know that God will bring light out of darkness. It is how God has worked and continues to work throughout human history.
Around us at the moment, our country burns, drought continues and there is so much more happening that can cause deep distress, pain, hurt, heartache and sadness. Many in our church community are experiencing or supporting those they love through these times. When we sing out in these times, when we show our vulnerability, honestly and openly, often what others see is beauty and inspiration.
God is still powerfully at work in our lives and in our world. As God’s people we are blessed to have a front row seat to witness the beauty of God at work through times of pain. As a church I pray that we would draw close to those who are experiencing these challenging times, not because we are expecting to get something out of it, but because it’s where God is and where God call’s us to be – and that is beautiful.