Echoes in an empty church

I received an email:

The sound techs were having a problem with the board: no sound out of it at all. They’d tried everything. Still no sound.

We’d been taking a weekend off, prior to my very busiest time at work, and so I’d gotten the email when on a short holiday. Monday at work would already be filled, but I wrote back and promised that I’d look at it, soonest.

I got there on Tuesday in the early afternoon. The church’s Administrative Assistant was out to lunch, and I called about to see if anyone else happened to be around. No one; no matter. I’m used to being the only person in the building, after all those years in television. You come in whenever you have to, to get the job done. And here I was, in an empty building.

I entered the sanctuary, and within the stillness of the empty space were these echoes of exultation from the past Easter celebrations. The banners hung quietly, testifying to the joy we have in the risen Christ. Even the bricks-and-mortar walls still echoed the joy and the spirit of these last weeks’ celebration. Instead of a coldness of an empty space, there still echoed a warmth that spoke of joy, love, and most of all, hope.

I shucked my coat and brought out from the pocket my e-reader; it had a music player function which I frequently used to provide background music for my devotions. Setting it down on the mix console, I switched the system on, then went forward in the sanctuary to switch on the power amp.

Silence. Not too good. Usually there’s a trace bit of ground-loop hum.

I came back to the mix console again and hooked up the e-reader, without looking at what it was to be playing (as it would all be appropriate for being in a church);  pressing PLAY. Still nothing.

Oops, un-MUTE the input. Hmmm… Still nothing.

I brought up the input that the e-reader was playing into, just to get some meter wiggles. The input showed activity, but still nothing from the speakers. The output of the board was alive, meter wiggles there. But… silence from the speakers.

Now it’s time to look at what’s between the board output and the amp. Feedback controller is ON, so that’s okay…

But wait! The room equalizer power switch is OFF. No lights… I punch it ON, and…

I’ve hit the music exactly, exactly between bars. It’s as if suddenly people began singing, after drawing a breath. The duo that is singing uses an effect that makes their voices sound like an Armonica, which gives their voices this amazing ethereal sound. And the words, which sing and fill and celebrate and welcome and exalt and echo and echo into this joyous empty space of the church and filling it, are: “Life……. Love….. Morning….”

I grab the fader and whip it down because the sound is so loud… and –but—it’s… worthy of this majestic but simple space… and it’s… like… it… was… supposed… to… sound…

And then my spine begins to tingle, as I’m thinking of Easter. Christ rising from the dead. “Why do you seek the living amongst the dead?”

Still ringing in the space are the echoes of the words:  “Life……. Love….. Morning….”

And my mind goes back to the ten lepers that Christ healed. Only one came back to thank him and give him glory.


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