Benediction

April Benediction
Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
©2015 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved
Life is a rollercoaster of ups and downs, highs and lows. We don't stay in the same place -- physically, emotionally, or spiritually -- for very long before something changes and we must also change. When we arrive at a high place, a low invariably follows. I'm sliding on the downslope tonight after arriving on a big high this morning. To fight the feelings that accompany downslopes, I pause to reflect on the good things of the past few months.

Spring is my favorite season and April is my favorite month of the year. April is dogwoods and redbuds, tulips and daffodils. It's about Easter and Jesus Christ, it's about new life and second chances, it's a celebration of surviving a long, cold winter. April is an explosion of wildflowers that fill me with joy -- trillium, trout lilies, and lady's slippers. As I drove the Loop Road around Cades Cove last Wednesday afternoon and observed the last of the dogwood blossoms fading and falling to the ground, I felt a twinge of sadness. The fading flowers that frame the Methodist Church offer a benediction on my month of renewal. I will have to wait an entire year for the simple delight that only a flowering dogwood brings. I'm sad to see them go.

Just like the ephemeral wildflowers that bloom in spring, spiritual highs don't last either. But tonight I'm going to cling to this morning's high for just a little while. At church I have the assignment to work with music leaders in the ten congregations that make up what is known in the Mormon world as a "Stake." I've had this assignment for 2 years and have loved it. Although I've been involved in church music essentially my entire life, this particular responsibility involved a steep learning curve and getting to know lots of people. It's no exaggeration to say it has taken me this long to get a decent grasp on what I need to do and how I can best help others.

As the Stake Music Chairman my biggest responsibility is to arrange for music for two large regional, or Stake Conferences, one in the spring and one in the fall, and to coordinate a music devotional service at Christmas. Sometime in late January I felt prompted by the Spirit to assemble a children's ("Primary") choir for Stake Conference. As I made inquiries among key individuals and friends, I quickly discovered that a Primary choir had not provided special music for the conference in decades. I was shocked. I have very fond memories of singing in Primary choirs as a child. I knew we needed to hear the tender voices and special spirits of children singing in the meeting that was held this morning, so I went to work. I started networking, listening to the songs the children were learning in their individual congregations, and I did a lot of praying. Many wonderful leaders and parents sent their children to Knoxville, where the magnificent Julie Stoner and Aimee Williamson worked their magic. I saw a lot of tears and more than a few tissues as our little cherubs sang of Jesus this morning. In a large congregation (400+) where there is normally a little noise, you could hear a pin drop as the children testified in song that they knew their Savior loved them and they promised to follow him. I was spellbound as I witnessed almost 50 children bring to life the vision I had months ago. It was special. It was epic. It was like nothing I've been a part of in a very long time. I saw what a profound effect those children had on everyone in attendance. Most of all, I was grateful for all the help and support I received that allowed this day to be one I'll never forget.

Tomorrow is another day and life will go on. The children are home with their families, the dogwoods blossoms have faded. But I will carry their beauty in my heart and I will hear the children's song:

A long time ago in a beautiful place,
Children were gathered ’round Jesus.
He blessed and taught as they felt of His love.
Each saw the tears on His face.
The love that He felt for His little ones
I know He feels for me.
I did not touch Him or sit on His knee,
Yet, Jesus in real to me.
I know He lives! I will follow faithfully.
My heart I give to Him.
I know that my Savior loves me
.

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