The years seem to just tumble one over the other.  So much is familiar, occurring in the same way at the same time in each season of the church year, but each year also brings new insights, fresh ideas, new songs and most important new friends to share in the worship and music life of the church.

As the calendar New Year rolls over the Church year continues on its story telling path.  The story of Jesus’ birth has been told and we continue into stories of his early childhood, baptism and the beginning of his ministry.  The season of Epiphany is always a particularly rich time in the worship life of Tabernacle.  The sanctuary was decorated with stars and lights for Epiphany Sunday, Jan 6. The following Sunday was Remember Your Baptism Sunday as we walked with Jesus and John through the baptism of Jesus while we remembered our own baptisms with a cross of water.   We sang “By Our Love” by Christy Nockels each week in Epiphany as a theme song.

Ash Wednesday was February 13.  This service ushered in our Lenten theme and decorations based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross.  We were surrounded by an amazing set of paintings by Grieg Leach that were hung in the Sanctuary around the balcony.  The sermons for Lent were based on selected Stations. The Older Children’s Choir sang “Nets of Love” by Thomas Simpson each Sunday as the children were weaving on a large loom constructed by John Gass.  There was a large palm parade on Palm Sunday and the Older Children’s Choir sang with the Sanctuary Choir in the Choir Loft.  The Sanctuary Choir presented “Return to Me” a large choral work for voice, piano and cello based on the Stations of the Cross by Taylor Davis on Good Friday.   Easter finally came with glorious happiness.  The service concluded with a choir representing each ethnic group within the congregation singing together “Up From the Grave He Arose.”  It was a great beginning to the Easter Season.

After the busy time of Epiphany, Lent and Holy Week April brought some welcome relaxation as we settled into the Easter season and prepared for Pentecost.  The children wrapped up their Wednesday evening musical activities in April.  The Younger Children sang in worship on April 21 and the Older Children sang in worship on May 5.  The leadership of Helen Davidson with the Younger Children and Julie Gaines and Joel Ingram with the Older Children has been a great gift for the 2012-2013 choir season.  The Sanctuary Choir also ended its rehearsals for spring of 2013 in April.  They continued to sing into May and early June, but Wednesday evening rehearsals ended on April 24.

The month of May brought a new rhythm to Wednesday evenings.  Instead of dinner, rehearsals and Bible study at the church building we met at various homes for picnics and some deliberate fellowship.  The first two of these dinners were a cookout at the church and a Burmese Food Festival that was also held at the church because of rain.  The follow weeks we were at the homes of Erin and Patrick Braford, Bobby and Kathy McGraw and Teddy McClure.  The evenings were a fun mixture of good food and fellowship.  Activities included lawn games, basket ball, soccer, horseback riding(at the McGraws) and just hanging out.   Regular Wednesday evening activities ended May 29.

Worship music and leadership during the summer was provided by a number of different soloists and ensembles.  We have enjoyed all of the selections as members of the congregation shared their musical skills in the worship service.  On July 7 we had Sally Irwin, a flutist, as a part of our worship music.  Bill and Gail Welstead are her flute students.

In June the children and youth held a Burmese Food Festival and tag sale to benefit the Camp Scholarship Fund.  Six young people and two adults attended Music and Worship Arts camp in July.

The month of July was all about planning and camp!  Much time was spent in planning and listening to anthems and children’s music for use in the fall, Advent and Christmas worship services.  July is also the month that includes Music and Worship Arts Camp at Eagle Eyrie.  This camp is sponsored by the Virginia Baptist Mission Board and includes about three hours of singing, three hours of various classes on music and worship oriented topics and age appropriate worship services.  There is also time for swimming in the wonderful Eagle Eyrie pool!  Jeff Walton and Julie Gaines chaperoned our children this summer.  Participants included Paul Lian, Monica Iang, Way Snah, K’Pa Moo, Kekoa Burgess and Liam Tomlin.  They had a wonderful week exploring their gifts.

August was busy with preparations and planning.  Music was pulled out and assigned to the correct Sundays.  New anthems were ordered and catalogued.  The never-ending task of cleaning and organizing the choir room was attacked with renewed vigor.  Singers were placed on notice that the end of “vacation” is approaching.  This summer was made more interesting by our decision to follow the Narrative Lectionary instead of the Revised Common Lectionary for the 2013-2014 worship cycle.

The music program at Tabernacle moves into high gear in September.  The Sanctuary Choir began rehearsal on Sept. 4th.   The children’s choirs began rehearsals the following Wednesday evening.  Judy Fiske led the Older Children’s group.  Helen Davidson and Judy Fiske led the Pre-school Choir.   The Older Children learned songs that parallel the teaching in Godly Play each week.  These lessons also parallel the readings that are being used each Sunday in the Worship service following Year 4 of the Narrative Lectionary.  In October the children in grades 3-5 joined the middle school students rehearsing for the Christmas program that was a part of worship on Dec. 15.   Jessica Corbitt directed this group of singers.

The Sanctuary Choir had a busy fall.  The decision to follow the Narrative Lectionary meant beginning the fall season with Old Testament Scriptures that required a new look at anthems for worship.  Ryan Corbitt even wrote an anthem to fit one of the scriptures.  Christmas quickly became the focus of the fall season.  The hard work of rehearsals paid off with great performances for both Christmas in the Fan and the concert at Bruton Parish as well as meaningful music in the worship servie.

The Meadow Street Band has been very busy this year singing and playing all over the state of Virginia.  They have been playing at the St. Stephen’s Farmer’s Market and at Lulu’s Creamery in Hanover County on a fairly regular basis.  The band also played a gig at the State Fair and in coffee houses in Norfolk and Roanoke.  They are preparing to record several of Meade Skelton’s new songs.

We are fortunate to be joined by a BTSR Intern this year.  Julie Gaines joined us in September as a Music and Worship Intern.  She is conducting the Sanctuary Choir about once a month, helping to plan worship and participating in many other pastoral duties.  This is a wonderful addition to our music program.

The Advent and Christmas seasons —actually the beginning of the church year, close out our calendar year.  This year held the familiar rhythm of past years as we lit Advent Candles, presented concerts with Richmond Concert Band and at Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Va., enjoyed a lovely Christmas program/pageant presented by the children and younger youth and ended the season with a beautiful Christmas Eve Service.  In 2013 we added for the first time a Christmas Celebration with our International community that included food, a worship service, music and dancing! It was a very good Advent and Christmas season.

Worship at Tabernacle would not be as interesting and engaging without the hard work of the people who join me on the music staff.  Ron Simmons, Terry Witt and Ryan Corbitt bring many talents to the table as they work with the other members of the staff to make worship meaningful and engaging.  This can involve anything from working with sound, organizing choir parties, trouble-shooting logistics to sharing beautiful music as a part of worship.  Their work becomes more valuable each year.

Many people must work together to make the worship experience at Tabernacle a seamless experience.  It requires trust in one another and in the vision for the worship service—sometimes without a total understanding of what the end result is going to look like—people willingly do their part to the best of their ability and then stand back to see the end result.  Good training for living a Christian life!  Thank you to everyone for your trust and careful, dedicated work.

Judy Fiske


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