Saturday, December 18, 2010

Flash Mob In Victoria

By Joanne Hatherly

When more than 300 singers erupted into O Holy Night at Victoria's Bay Centre on an otherwise ordinary Saturday afternoon, one bewildered shopper asked, "Where is the choir?" "They're everywhere," came an answer from inside the crowd.

In early December, Barb Schindel, Colwood Pentecostal Church's worship director, was talking with her husband about a video that captured about 100 shoppers in a Welland, Ontario mall food court who suddenly burst into an operatic performance of Handel's Messiah. The mall had been 'flash-mobbed.'

Flash mobs are large groups of people who assemble without warning to do something unusual. The performance usually last only a few minutes, after which the participants disperse into the crowd. Schindel's husband turned to her and said, "We could do that".

She didn't think so, but she happily admits she was wrong. On Dec. 18 at 2 p.m., with a little help from area churches and choirs, and through a Facebook site invitation, as many as 400 people showed up at the Bay Centre mall and gave Victoria shoppers a beautiful reminder of the real meaning of Christmas.

The group had the opportunity to rehearse twice - first at the mall, where they were allowed inside after hours on Sunday before the event, and then again at Gateway Baptist Church on the morning of the event. More than 200 people showed up at the rehearsals, giving Schindel confidence that something special was going to happen.

At 2 p.m., after the Bay Tower clock bells chimed, Schindel opened with O Holy Night and soon the air was filled with what seemed like a heavenly chorus as hundreds of singers over the mall's four balcony levels joined in.

After five minutes and 31 seconds, the singers closed with a verse from Silent Night, leaving the mall's atmosphere changed from harried to relaxed, with shoppers smiling and chatting over what they had just seen. It's hard to keep a secret with more than 300 singers in on the act, but even the mall's retail workers expressed shock.

Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton was one of the singers. Calling the experience "incredible," Causton was left wanting more. "I was just warming up. Are we going to do it again?," Causton said.

Click here to see a participant video that has been uploaded to YouTube.

Monday, December 06, 2010

I knew it was going to happen.  I just didn't expect that it would happen today.  As you probably know by now, Carole James has resigned as leader of the NDP.  After the emergency Caucus meeting scheduled for Sunday afternoon was cancelled, I thought that perhaps things were settling down, cooler heads were prevailing and a truce was in the works.  That was apparently not the case.

I've met Ms. James.  For a time she was my MLA.  When we first moved to Victoria, she would walk past my house on the way to her office.  She is a very nice person.  Some would say that she was too nice for politics.  I'm not sure if I agree.  I think we need good and decent people to serve as leaders in our province.

This might not be the first time in the history of our province that both major political parties are searching for a new leader, but it's certainly the first time in a long time.  Who would have guessed 6 months ago that the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition would both resign as leader of their respective party before year end and within weeks of each other?

Generally speaking we crave structure and order.  We want (and need) systems and processes to keep our society, government, culture and lives running smoothly.  For the most part, God is inclined towards order and structure too.  The planets stay on their orbital paths.  The ocean remains within the limits He has given it.  Apples, as Sir Isaac Newton noted, fall down from trees because of the law of gravity. 

Given that God has established unchangeable, unalterable order and patterns, we might be led to conclude that He is most comfortable in that kind of environment.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I'm convinced that God is prone to use chaos, vacuums, and 'unorthodox' approaches to accomplish His amazing plans and purposes.  There was nothing orthodox about a virgin bringing forth a son but it was part of His perfect plan.

As I stated earlier, we find ourselves at a remarkable moment in BC history.  Could it be that God is in a reorganizing process on behalf of our province?  Could it be that in His divine wisdom, He is working something out in the lives of two leaders who have just stepped down and in the process of preparing others to take their place?  I think this is EXACTLY what is taking place.  He removes and raises leaders as He sees fit.  Removal is not necessarily judgement and raising is not necessarily endorsement.  It's more a matter of God putting the appropriate person in place for the specific time and season that their gifts were required to accomplish HIS plans and purposes.

The next few months promise to be very interesting on the political scene.  I'll keep you posted.  Keep on praying!

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king’s demand. (Daniel 2:20-23, NKJV)