The Community of Thousands of Opinions in One Gym

Change, tradition, religion, and expectations. Each person has their own ideas about what should exist and morph in each of these categories, and never are two peoples’ ideas the same about such things. Christmas Fest at St. Olaf College is a prime example of such a conflict coming into the spotlight (if you will). Luther says that for a church service to accurately be considered a worship service the Gospel must be shared. Additionally, he is a big fan of music and says that actions which connect participants closer to God are sacred and good and should be included in the service. Christmas Fest costs money to produce, and St. Olaf charges the audiences money to attend. People who donate money to the college get rewarded for their financial success by better ticket buying options. A few years ago Christmas Fest was rebranded from a worship service to what we know it to be today: a profit-pumping concert with good intentions and carefully manicured shadow vowels across the massed choir. If Luther came to a Christmas Fest rehearsal right after Thanksgiving break what would he see and think? If Luther came to a Christmas Fest performance what would he think? Would he be disgusted that the college is putting a cost on the chance to worship and celebrate the Christmas story as he was disgusted with the practice of indulgences? Or would he look at the large rehearsals as opportunities to work at strengthening one’s personal connection and relationship with God? In a time of reform it is so easy for patterns to be made and conclusions to be drawn. However, each and every person who participates in planning, performing, or attending Christmas Fest has a different idea of what it needs to be. It is impossible for everyone to be pleased, and if St. Olaf can raise enough money from Christmas Fest to further spread joy and love (as the Lutheran tradition would interpret Jesus’ mission to be) it is worth going against the grain of the handful of people who think pursuing quasi-maniac rehearsal perfection is not a noble way to work toward a deeper relationship with God.

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