Praise in the Park

By Linda Porter Carlyle

Trevor Paul Monroe stood at the front window. His nose wasn’t exactly pressed against the glass, but almost. He stared down the street. “They’re here!” he shouted. He ran to the front door and yanked it open. “Bye, Mom!” he hollered. He ran out the door and down the sidewalk.

“Goodbye! Have a great time!” Mom called after him. She waved at Pastor Chuck from the front porch.

Joseph scooted over closer to Hannah, and Trevor climbed into the back seat of Pastor Chuck’s car.

“Hey!” Pastor Chuck greeted him. “I’m glad you could come with us.”

“This is going to be so much fun!” Mac exclaimed. She bounced on the front seat between Pastor Chuck and Mrs. Pastor Chuck. “I can’t wait to hear the music!”

“I know,” Mrs. Pastor Chuck put in. “I love outdoor concerts. And this one should be really special. All the music will be glorifying Jesus. Just like the music in heaven.”

“‘Praise in the Park,’” Hannah said. “I like the name of it.”

“Our neighbor across the street is going to play his tenor sax,” Trevor said excitedly. “I hope I can play a tenor sax someday. I love it when he practices with the windows open. The music sort of makes me want to fly.”

“I know what you mean,” Pastor Chuck said. “That’s how I feel when I hear a really, really good classical guitar player.”

Cars lined both sides of the street as they neared the park. “Humm,” Pastor Chuck muttered. “I guess we’d better grab the first parking place we can find.”

Just then a dark blue minivan pulled away from the curb in front of them. Pastor Chuck neatly tucked his car into the empty space.

Pastor Chuck carried the ice chest. Mrs. Pastor Chuck carried a big patchwork quilt. Mac, Trevor, Hannah, and Joseph trooped behind them down the path to the amphitheater area.

The amphitheater was a grassy hillside that looked like half of a huge bowl. The grass sloped gently down to a large cement stage at the bottom in the middle. The stage was covered with big, black speakers, guitars waiting patiently in metal stands, and two tall keyboards. Musicians wandered around on the stage and off, talking to each other.

“Let’s sit here,” Mac suggested. “We can see everything from here. There sure are a lot of people!” she exclaimed. “Oh, look! There’s Fred from the market!” Mac waved both hands at Fred and his family who were sitting a little ways away on a blanket.

“How many churches are playing in the concert tonight?” Pastor Chuck asked his wife.

“Seven or eight, I think,” she answered.

Suddenly the loud speakers screeched. Hannah clapped her hands over her ears. The first musicians were ready to begin.

“Oh!” Mac breathed. “Look at that!”

A woman in a beautiful white dress stood beside the singers on the stage. She shook a tambourine high over her head. Long blue, and red, and purple ribbons trailed down from the tambourine. Mac watched in fascination as the woman began to play, and the ribbons swayed and danced back and forth through the air.

“That woman is a real artist!” Mrs. Pastor Chuck whispered softly. “I’ve never seen anyone play the tambourine so well before.”

Mac couldn’t take her eyes off the tambourine player. She had seen other people play the tambourine before, of course. But those musicians had only shaken it gently in front of them or quietly tapped it against their legs. There was nothing gentle or quiet about this tambourine player’s style! Her tambourine swooped through the air, back and forth, up and down, like some kind of joyful bird.

“Wow!” Pastor Chuck said when the song was over. “Can’t you just see Miriam playing the tambourine like that when she led the children of Israel in thankful songs?”

“I want to learn to do that!” Mac whispered. Her eyes sparkled. Even her red curls seemed to sparkle. “I’ve got to learn to play the tambourine like that!”

“Yeah!” Trevor said. “You could play the tambourine. I could play the tenor sax. And Pastor Chuck could play the guitar. We could have our own praise band someday!”

“I’m going to take piano lessons pretty soon,” Hannah put in. “I could probably learn to play a keyboard too.”

Mrs. Pastor Chuck grinned. “I guess that leaves Joseph as our lead singer,” she said.

Joseph took a deep breath. “I could do that!” he said.

Mac looked around at the great crowd of people sitting on the grass, or on blankets, or lawn chairs. She watched a toddler trying to keep her balance on the sloping hillside. “Everybody looks so happy!” she said. “It’s like they all learned our memory verse this week. ‘I will praise You, O Lord, with all my heart.’ ”

“Oh, listen!” Trevor said. “There’s my neighbor on the stage with his tenor sax. Just wait till you hear this!”

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