Friday, May 30, 2008

Burst into Jubilant Song

Last week on Friday, the Concordia Wisconsin- Mequon choir, Kammerchor, stopped here in Třinec in the middle of their 10-day tour of Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria. This was a delightful two days for me, as I was able to interact with a wonderful group of my countrymen and fellow believers in Christ. It was wonderful to receive such a gift of easy conversation and of joy and energy in this young people. I also enjoyed the non-student members of the tour: the director, Dr. Ken Kosche and a handful of other adults.

On Friday morning, they arrived around 10:00 and had a short rehearsal inside our church. Then we all left for my school so they could give a brief concert to the children their and interact with them a little. This was a wonderful time and included a silly, repeat-after-me song with a lot of actions that the school children enjoyed. In the afternoon I had a privilege of going for ice cream and coffee with a group of the choir members and was able to tell them the exciting story of how God brought me to the Czech Republic through the sending of LCMS World Mission. It was a wonderful opportunity for many of them to learn, some for the first time, about the mission arm of their church body and how they themselves have the opportunity to be involved in missions after graduation. Several students had many deep, probing questions that led me to believe they were seriously considering becoming volunteer missionaries after school.

At 6:00 the choir performed their lovely, stirring, entirely a capella concert in the church. I cannot describe it except to say that listening to them was like going to a Concordia- Seward A Capella concert (many of my readers have heard this wonderful choir sing). Not a few of their songs gave me chills and goosebumps at the thrill of their worship of our God.

Following the concert, we all (all the Americans present) ate dinner together, played a few silly games, and then had a great time of worship and devotion. I had been asked to provide a devotion for this time. I spoke on Change, about how at times it can feel that everything in life has changed around us, uncontrollably, but that we can count on Him who does not change. We can rely on His solid, immutable promises, that our salvation in Christ and His love are things that are eternal and unchanging, things which cannot be lost or taken away by anything in this world.

Our great God "does not change like shifting shadows" (Jas. 1:17) and is "not a son of man that He should change His mind" (Num. 23:19). He says of Himself: "I the LORD do not change" (Mal. 3:10).

On Saturday morning, the tour members; Stephanie, my friend and LCMS volunteer missionary in Poland; Edek, the deacon here in Třinec; and I went to Javorovy, a nearby mountain with a chair lift. We rode the lift to the top of the hill and enjoyed the glorious view and enjoyed watching several parasailors try to take off.

After an hour and a half of looking around, we headed back to the lift. It was there, on the top of a beautiful, lush mountain, in the woods, that these choir members lifted their glorious voices in jubilant song to the Lord in an impromptu concert. Again with the goosebumps... At that moment, I could think of nothing more beautiful, no place in the entire world where I would rather have been. It was wonderful.

The choir had to leave for another town shortly after we left the mountain. They returned to Slovakia that evening and traveled shortly after to Vienna where they finished their tour. Some of them notified me on Wednesday that they had arrived safely back in Wisconsin. Praise the Lord for their gift of music and for their tour, singing His praises in Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Austria!

Please pray:
-that God would raise up many new missionaries for Him to spread His Good News to the corners of the globe, especially that He would move within the hearts of our Lutheran young people, at the Concordias and in non-Lutheran universities, to give them a passion for missions. Pray that when God asks, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" that they would eagerly say to Him, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn--
shout for joy before the LORD, the King." Ps. 98:4-6

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