Sunday, December 18, 2011


Today was the day we had our annual Christmas cantata!  The choir has been practicing for months, and they sounded amazing!  I'd love to give them all the credit, but I can't.  Most of it goes to me, since I was the one running the sound.  :)  Hehe!  Just kidding.  I basically just made sure the music came on, and the choir did the rest.  I wish you could have been there to hear them!  They almost blew away the first four rows of pews!  Awesome!

We did have one small incident, though.

A weird thing about our church is that the choir loft seems to defy the laws of thermodynamics.  It can be freezing cold in the whole sanctuary, people literally bundled up in the fleece loaner blankets we have on hand for the little old ladies, but up where the choir is seated people are fanning and sweating.  I'm sure it has something to do with the placement of the can lights above the stage, but whatever it is makes it very difficult to keep the temperature at a level that won't cause the choir members to pass out while simultaneously throwing the rest of us into hypothermia.  Of course, when they have special musical events, we tend to keep the temperature at the coldest it can be to accommodate the choir.  It's hard to stand and sing for 45 minutes wearing a heavy robe anyway, and the last thing we want to do is have any of our choir members pass out (it's happened before.) 

This morning the temperature was set to 69 degrees, the house lights were turned down to keep the room from getting too hot, and we had the air conditioning fans running hard on both sides of the sanctuary.

We also have the entire sanctuary decorated for Christmas, having done the hanging of the green a couple of weeks ago. We have swags of garland and wreaths and in each window we have an arrangement of artificial greenery, ribbons, and hurricane lamps with tall, red taper candles in them.  It's all very beautiful, and our minister of music wants to make sure that we light all of the candles at every service until the end of the Christmas season. So the candles were lit and everything looked very nice.

(I promise that is all important, albeit in a round about way, so bear with me.)

The cantata went off without a hitch, and I guess the preacher got all excited, because after the singing was done he got up and started preaching a very short sermon.  Well....short-ish.  We're Southern Baptist, after all.  :)   During all of this, I was sitting in the back of the room in the sound "booth" and the associate pastor was standing back there with me.  He'd had to do something earlier during the service and had decided to just hang out in the back so that he wouldn't disturb anyone during the cantata.  I'm so very, very glad he did. 

As the preacher was doing his thing, I was waiting on my cue to turn the projector on so that we could sing the last song.  I hate to admit I wasn't really listening to him, but I was trying to think of what I had to do next.  After about five minutes I noticed a weird smell.  It was bitter and familiar, but I couldn't place it right away.  My first thought was that we'd finally pushed the heating/cooling system to the point of no return, but something made me look over to my left, and I saw fire.  One of the window arrangements was on fire!  Apparently it had been in the perfect place for a draft from the air conditioner to blow the flame of the candle sideways, which caused the candle to melt super-fast, which in turn caused the flame to reach the plastic greenery before the service was over and caused everything inside of the hurricane chimney to burn.

I realize that the whole thing was over in only a matter of seconds, but from the time I looked over and saw the fire, everything sort of went in slow motion.  My first thought was "Yep. Fire."  Then my second thought was "HOLY SH*T! FIRE!!!!!!!"  My third thought was "Why is no one doing anything about the fire? No, really...can they not see that? The fire? Burning where a fire ought not burn?"  Literally, there were dozens of people sitting next to the fire, and no one was moving.  I was in no position to do anything myself, because I was in the booth which is enclosed on 3 sides, and on my 4th side I was hemmed in by a video camera that we'd set up to record the cantata.  I didn't know what to do, so I looked over in panic at the associate pastor and mouthed (so as not to disturb the congregation or preacher) "FIRE!"  I don't think he understood what I was saying, because he just looked confused.  So I pointed (in what I thought was a subtle way, but was told afterwards that I was basically flailing my arms) and panic whispered "THAT. THING. IS. ON. FI-YER!"  What I lacked in volume I apparently made up with panic in my eyes.  He walked over, grabbed the arrangement, and cool as a cucumber escorted it outside and put it out.  Seriously, the man was carrying a tray of fire and he didn't turn a hair.

Me?  I was a giggling mess.  I guess that's what panic does to me... it makes me giggle-snort.  Oy vey.  The smell of burning plastic and florist's foam was strong, but the damage was surprisingly minimal.  The only thing that suffered was the hurricane chimney, the candle and the burnt arrangement, of course.  I'm glad that it didn't become engulfed completely, because the glass could have shattered and hurt several people, not to mention spreading to the wooden window sill and the carpet underneath it.  Whew. 

I still don't understand why no one sitting over there moved.  I mean, I suppose that they didn't want to disturb the sermon,  It was burning. Flames. The flowers were on fire! Inside the church something was on fire. No one batted an eye.  THAT'S NOT NORMAL!!!!!!    I don't think our pastor would have minded a bit of shuffling about if it meant that the fire was put out.  Oh, well...all's well that ends well, I guess.  Thank goodness.

Oh, and as an added bonus, I got stuck under the sound booth desk before services started.  It was my own stupid fault, though.  I had to make an important phone call, but I couldn't leave the sanctuary because I had to babysit some A/V equipment (we worship in the ghetto...what can I say) that didn't belong to the church.  I was alone in the sanctuary, but I didn't want to make the call where my voice would echo around the room in case anyone came in, so I crawled under the desk and made my call.  I somehow got tangled up and couldn't get out.  I spent a full five minutes struggling before I  managed to crawl out, but not before people came in and saw me under there. 

SIGH.  It's been an interesting day.

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