The Christmas season at Bethel is my favorite time of the year. Not only are the students oh-so-close to finishing out the semester, but there are lots of time-honored BC traditions to experience. This past Friday was the Messiah Sing, which is the final (and my personal favorite) convocation of the year. Once again, my penchant for singing in community reveals my bias, for the Messiah Sing is just that – singing Handel’s Messiah in Bethel College Mennonite Church. The BC band and orchestra plays, several of the very best Concert Choir singers perform arias and recitatives, and the audience (segregated into soprano, alto, tenor, bass) sings the rest. It is a beautiful thing, hearing the voices and instruments weave seamlessly together. And when the final “Hallelujah” reverberates around the church, I can’t help feeling a bit sad that I shall have to wait 364 days to hear that moment again.
Another of my favorite Christmas traditions is Gala, which is a chance to get dressed up and reuse some of those old prom dresses, as well as being the final big event before the panic of Finals Week sets in. It consists of three main parts – a formal dinner, where students are waited upon by faculty and staff, a jazz concert in the auditorium, and a dessert reception at the President’s house. The dinner is a fun time to get together with friends and eat food that surpasses the usual standards, and the dessert reception is in pretty much the same vein. But the jazz concert is the part that I enjoy the most. BC has some of the best jazz musicians in the state, and their concerts are a thing to behold. This year, Professor of Jazz Studies Jim Pisano played in the concert and had a “jazz-off” with saxophone Joel Boettger. It was so much fun to watch. The jazz band was rockin’ along as fast as their fingers could fly across the keys and they were having the Time. Of. Their. Life.
But now all of that is over, and I must wait approximately 50 more weeks before it all rolls around again. It’s officially Finals Week, and it’s time to study.