And the Band Played On

And the Band Played On

By Steven J. Callis

As a high school student, fall Friday nights were all about the game.  After a high protein supper, I would make my way to the locker room where the only noise involved trainers taping ankles, knees, wrists, and elbows, the rustling of shoulder pads and helmets, and occasional whispers among players and coaches.  After the game, the locker room was usually quite noisy in celebration.  I was fortunate to play on a team that won most of its games.

Years later, as a parent, fall Friday nights were all about halftime.  Yes, my wife and I were band parents.  I still watched the game with interest, but the whole night revolved around an 8-minute performance of marching intricacies and musical precision.

Anticipation began as the entire band marched in step to the beat of one lone drummer keeping time with a 4/4 rim shot.  With the players finally in place, one could hear the proverbial pin drop as the announcer inquired, “Drum majors, is you band ready?”  After a series of affirmative salutes, the crowd would erupt with shouts, screams, and applause; then the band played on as they marched their daily-rehearsed patterns.

The highest point of the show was when the band “played to the judges.”  Some people call it the “push,” or the “blow out.”  Immediately prior to that moment, the band plays with its back to the home crowd, and the music is low in volume.  Then, in an instant, the entire band wheels around to face the crowd, marching towards the sideline, and playing at maximum volume.  It is a chilling and thrilling moment that produces proud fans standing in grand reception with shouts of appreciation and pride.

Thinking back in comparison, I have noticed the similarities between the football team and the band.  Both begin the event in a hushed focus, and both end with an enthusiastic celebration.  Both work hard all week, all season, to perfect their performances.  Both play for the pride of the school.

Maybe, just maybe, these thoughts can also be a description of life itself.  We begin with a focus on the very breath of life, we spend years perfecting our performance, and for those who live in the hope of the Christian belief of heaven and eternal life, received by grace through faith, our earthly days end with a celebrative homegoing.   In the words of songwriter Bart Millard, and recorded by MercyMe, “I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by Your side.  I can only imagine what my eyes will see when Your face is before me, I can only imagine.”

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