On 8 October 2017, the 47th Choir Festival of the FELSISA took place in the auditorium of the Deutsche Schule Pretoria.
This year the occasion commemorated the 500 years of Reformation, and also marked the 125th anniversary of the FELSISA. Fortunately, despite the distances, about 120 singers attended the festival.
As to be expected, the chorale “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” was sung, but this time as an adaptation by an old Pretorian, namely Prof. Stefaans Grové. The movement for organ, 2 trumpets and choir was particularly well received.
Pastor Martin Paul held the service, and Bishop Dr Dieter Reinstorf preached on Mark 9:14-29. At the start, he quoted Martin Luther as saying: “Music is a pure gift and given by God, it drives away the devil, makes people joyful and they forget all the problems.”
In the sermon (on the healing of a possessed boy), Bishop Reinstorf made the comparison that the disciples could not heal the boy because they had lost the focus on Christ. Without God we are nothing, and we are mistaken when we think that we can solve the problems of the world by our own efforts. No, we can become calm, trust God’s help and be an instrument of God. We can work and heal in our time, in our context, and be there for our people, because God works in and through us. In being weak, we are strong. Martin Luther experienced this too.
In the second half of the programme, Missionary Christoph Weber gave a presentation entitled “Go – Mission Today.” The Mission of Lutheran Churches (MLC) is a partner organization of the FELSISA, which has been spreading the Word of God in Southern Africa for 125 years. He was pleased to relate that several projects that are currently being supported are showing concrete growth. The mission work in Mozambique was highlighted as a success story, and the work in Newcastle is seeing “exponential growth.” The mission in Africa lives on!
The main conductor, Dr Manfred Johannes, also presented: “Singing – an effective weapon in the time of the Reformation and even today.” Luther had also studied music, and he assigned the role of singing the hymns, as well as singing the responses in the liturgy, to the congregation. Luther liked to perform music at home with the family as well as with his friends and the students. The “singing church” had found its purpose: proclaiming the Word! Thus, the people of the Reformation became active participants in worship services, as well as in everyday life.
The Choir Festival is a public confession of our faith, even an act where our faith becomes concrete. May our singers continue to be encouraged for this service while those listening, sing-along in their hearts, and all of us confess our faith wherever an opportunity arises.
After the service, there was a lunch served by the St Paul’s Congregation Pretoria. All participants, especially the singers, the synodical conductor, as well as the St Paul’s Congregation Pretoria and all guests, are hereby thanked for a wonderful choir festival.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Bodo Meyer, Pretoria