Well we did it again. This is now the sixth consecutive year that I have attended Night of Joy at Disney, Orlando. Richard has accompanied me for the last five. We stayed for two nights because Richard decided that the line-up of artists was just too good on both nights. Who was I to argue?
I have to say that in all the years that I have been this event does not lose its magic and excitement. I have never been disappointed, even when they took it out of Magic Kingdom for a couple of years and tried it over at MGM Studios. The artists are always fantastic and the various venues and set ups are just great.
Some of the artists and bands that played for us this year were David Crowder Band, Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, Sidewalk Prophets, Britt Nicole, Third Day, and Mercy Me. Now where else can you be entertained by such a galaxy of stars in the space of two nights all in one place. There were a few more but I didn’t hear them. That’s probably the only problem – having to choose who to listen to because there are at least two artists/bands playing at the same time in different venues.
For me the best venue is the stage they set up with Cinderella’s castle as the back drop. At night, with all the changing lights playing on the castle, it is truly a magical atmosphere. This lends itself really well to the high energy music and the level of audience participation. Even after six years it never ceases to amaze me that thousands of people travel from all over (and I mean all over the world!) to take part in this Christian event.
The energy that can be felt is very uplifting and I am always struck by the number of young people who are there openly worshipping God. Hands and hearts are raised during every song. And then, of course, during some of the more rock-style numbers there’s lots of jumping up and down “for God”.
I have to say that I think my favorite artist this year was Chris Tomlin whose routine is seamless and very high energy. He doesn’t falter from song to song and his genuine love of God and desire to worship Him is very clear. Mercy Me runs a close second and I really like Casting Crowns and Third Day.
Once again I came away from the experience feeling very uplifted. Music is a precious gift from God and I love the way these musicians give back to God what He has bestowed upon them. Here’s looking forward to next year and another soul fulfilling night of joy!
I have always loved reading. My mother called me a bookworm. I would devour books, rarely putting them down until the last letter of the last word on the last page had been savored. As a little girl I heard, then read by myself, all the childhood favorites.
I learned the nursery rhymes one by one until I new them all by heart. I remember Little Boy Blue, Baa-baa Black Sheep, Mary Mary Quite Contrary, Little Bo-Peep, Mary Had a Little Lamb, Jack Spratt, and so many others. The characters all seemed so real to me and with my vivid imagination I would charm them all to life as I lay in bed.
Then, of course, there was Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. How many nights did I fall asleep with the image of myself in one of my very ordinary little dresses being turned into a shimmering creation of gossamer silver and silk. Or seeing myself with a handsome prince (who looked suspiciously like Johnnie the boy next door!), riding off in a glimmering golden carriage into a rosy pink sunset. And those were the ideals that were cast in stone in my childhood memory banks for the future that could be mine. I would be “rescued” from whatever paltry life I was living and I would be carried off to live “happily ever after”.
The only problem with Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty is that no one wrote the sequel. So here we are left with the never-ending final scene of riding off into that proverbial sunset and being happy. We are never shown what happens when they got back to the palace. I presume that’s where they were eventually headed.
I mean, I realize that if they did live in a palace they would probably have access to a maid or two, and a cook, and a butler, and a gardener. Life wouldn’t be too shabby as they created an edict or two and smiled magnanimously at their subjects. But they’d still have to think about day-to-day living and waking up to each other everyday.
However, I have to admit, that if ever my little girl mind went further than that ride into the sunset, I always imagined Cinderella walking the corridors of her palace in different ball gowns and tiaras, and leaning out of balconies in the palace turrets as little blue birds flew down to her fingers and sang to her. I’ve no idea what the prince was up to as she floated around in her perfectly idyllic life!!
No wonder we are set up for failure in real life relationships! Given the state of today’s society full of drinking and drugs, fast paced living, crime and abuse, there probably isn’t more than a handful of healthy families in each neighborhood. Pessimistic – maybe; realistic – probably.
Let’s just go back to the sixties. Actually we need to back further still, to the time of prohibition. Everything was forbidden, especially alcohol. When that law was revoked there was a wild swing into drinking which eventually ended up in the free love and drug experimentation during the era of the hippy sixties.
Although the sixties ended and the hippies went out of style, drugs had taken a firm hold. The hippy youth of the sixties became the next generation of parents. Many of them continued to use “soft” drugs and some “not-so-soft” drugs also spilled onto the market. You don’t need to be a psychologist to realize that these people were not the best of parents and a whole generation of dysfunctional families was created.
As their children grew up and began to look for mates we had the first layer of inter-dysfunctional marriages. Many people used alcohol to chase away their demons. Others got into heavier drugs which were becoming increasingly more available. Wherever there is a new market entrepreneurial minds will flourish, and many criminal minds were savvy enough to realize that there was much money to be made with drugs.
And let’s not forget the wave of people who began to turn to prescription drugs to treat the depression and other psychological ailments that came from the pain of knowing there was something wrong but not being able to pin point or explain that wrong. Very few people could bear the stigma that was associated with going to see a psychologist or therapeutic counselor, so they used whatever was available.
“Too depressing, way too negative”, I hear you cry. “Depressingly true”, I respond. “But what has this got to do with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty”, I hear you ask. “Everything”, I say. When there is nothing, or at least very little, left but darkness or depression we look for salvation wherever we can find it. When no decent role models are around we turn to fantasy and make believe and the realm of fairy tales and try to turn them into reality.
Is it any wonder that the explosion of New Age religions and spirituality was so enormous? By now we have generation upon generation of dysfunctional people searching for something, searching for salvation, searching for real role models. On a subconscious level people realize that there is more to life than “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”.
Thank God more and more people are reaching out for the help that they need. There is definitely a movement toward the return of old values. Many people are seeking professional help as that stigma drops away. The rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous are growing in number and in size.
Many people see that it takes courage to ask for help and are discovering that courage. Even men, the proverbial “strong, silent, macho one’s” are becoming brave enough (they always thought it was a weakness!), to approach therapists. Couples are recognizing that jumping into divorce does not remove their problems. Divorce may remove the other partner, but each partner is still left with attitudes and behaviors that they will drag into a new relationship.
So perhaps we can lay the fairy tales to rest, or at least in recounting them to our children and our grandchildren we can help them to understand that they are just that – fairy tales. Perhaps some new good authors will emerge who can write a “second level” of classical fairy tales for our children as they reach early teens. Stories that will shine a light of good healthy reality on how life can and should be lived after that ride into the sunset.
For six years I have attended Night of Joy at one of the Disney Theme Parks. For those of you who do not know what Night of Joy is, let me inform you. There are actually two nights that are spanned by this event and it usually takes place on the second Friday and Saturday in September.
The event itself is a series of concerts that are played simultaneously across the Park. The musicians and singers are all Christian music performers. On these concert nights the Park is closed earlier than usual to regular patrons and only Night of Joy ticket holders are allowed into the Park for the evening’s entertainment.
I participated in my first Night of Joy in 2004 and it was held in Magic Kingdom. Last year and this year the event was held in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Although the backdrop of Cinderella’s castle was always very magical, after two year’s experience at Hollywood Studios I think my preference lies with the latter. There just seems to be easier access to and more space for the performers and the patrons.
I will never forget my first Night of Joy. I had no idea what to expect. I was not yet “into” Christian music. I had heard some on the radio (check out 88.1 The Promise in the Jacksonville, FL area), and I liked most of it. Some of the “heavy/hard rock” groups didn’t attract me, but that’s an age thing:-).
As I listened to the first concert get into full swing I noticed an immediate surge of energy all around me. Don’t misunderstand me. I have been to other “pop” concerts over the years and there is always energy with the music. There is always energy with music, period. It’s an expression of energy by the musicians and the audience responds in like manner.
But there was something different; a totally different kind of “buzz”. I checked out all around me and realized that I was surrounded by young people, by old people, by couples, by families, by singles, by groups. There was a cross ethnic, cross generational theme everywhere I looked. But there was a focus, an excitement, an intenseness spritzing off of everyone, and it was very contagious.
Almost everyone, no matter what age group they belonged to, knew the words to the songs. Almost everyone was singing out joyously. There were people with one hand lifted to the sky. Yet others had both hands raised. I suddenly realized by about the third song that I was in the middle of one huge glorious worship service.
Who knows what different church denominations were represented there in that moment. I know I saw some groups wearing T-shirts that identified themselves as belonging to a particular church or Christian youth group. They were many and varied. Yet the one unifying desire was to be there to worship and glorify God, Creator, Spirit. A yearning, if you will, to recognize and acknowledge the One, the Supreme Being who gives us life. It was electrifying.
I am not a “holy roller” (whatever that may be). Although there are a few Bible verses that I can quote and reference and there are others that I can paraphrase, I am not someone who can spout from the Bible at any and every occasion. I do not wear “sack cloth and ashes” and I really hope I don’t portray a “holier than thou” attitude.
When I’m not dealing with that pesky de-pression stuff, I consider myself to be a fun-loving, joy-filled, and joyful person in my day-to-day dealings with life. But that evening I experienced joy on a level that I had never experienced before. It was the kind of joy that filled me up, raised me up, and had me overflowing with happiness and gratitude. The kind of joy that had me laughing, smiling, singing (when I knew the words!), and crying all at one time.
My husband did not come with me that first year. It had been a “girl’s night” treat with a couple of my girl friends. But when the following year rolled around, based on my experience the previous year, he wanted to participate and we went as a family with our daughter. He and I have not missed a year since, although because of last minute work travel in 2008 he had to surrender his ticket to one of my friends.
Each year has been different and yet each year has been the same. The bands and the individual singers may change and rotate, but the energy and enthusiasm of the people who come to listen, sing, and worship remains the same. And they come from all over. Most of the States are represented and I have even met people from Canada, UK, and South America. If you want to experience an uplifting, interdenominational worshipping of God, I highly recommend that you plan a Night of Joy at Disney.