Always, not only on Pentecost
These last few days, the focus of the New Apostolic congregations around the world has been on Goslar (Germany). On Sunday the Pentecost service by Chief Apostle Schneider will be transmitted to over 100 countries from here.
In the days leading up to Pentecost, the International District Apostle Meeting gathered for consultations in Goslar. There were extensive discussions especially on the New Apostolic concept of ministry. In order to attune the Chief Apostle and the District Apostles for Sunday, the central choir and the orchestra of the New Apostolic Church Saxony/Thuringia gave a concert on Saturday evening in the city Hall in Osterode (Germany), conducted by Jürgen Gerisch. The motto of this musical highlight was biblical and fit wonderfully into the present Pentecost season. “I am with you always!”
Elijah fights for God
Two clear divine promises set the framework for the extremely successful afternoon concert: God will send angels who will protect us human beings; and have no fear. In his dramatic oratorio Elijah, Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847) depicts events from the life of the biblical prophet. Elijah had prominent, even dramatic encounters with God, it said in the concert flyer. Two of these striking events were presented at the end of the concert. One was Elijah’s encounter with God on Mount Horeb: God did not reveal Himself to the prophet in the storm, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in a still small voice. The other was Elijah’s dramatic ascension into heaven: “And when the Lord would take him away to heaven, lo! there came a fiery chariot with fiery horses; and he went by a whirlwind to heaven.” Also presented was the much-loved “For He shall give His angels charge over thee” as well as the rousing final chorus “And then shall your light break forth”. The programme planners could not have done better for this Pentecost concert—starting with the comforting promise and ending with the fiery ascension. Pentecost can come.
Between the two parts from Elijah the choir sang hymns extolling the Holy Spirit. After all, Pentecost does have something to do with being filled with the Holy Spirit. The concert programme stated: “Of course we also ‘welcome’ the Holy Spirit in our songs—it is Pentecost, the birthday of the church of Christ.” And a birthday is something cheerful. And this is how the songs were: joyful, meaningful, future-oriented. They spoke of praise and power, and extolled the heavenly heights and the igniting spark.
The concert flyer made reference to the biblical words, “’Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ These comforting words conclude the gospel of Matthew. We have chosen them as the motto for this year’s Pentecost concert in order to once again intensify and magnify this certainty of faith in our hearts.”
The enormously delicate and touching Intermezzo Sinfonico by Pietro Mascagni (1863– 1945), for example, makes it easy to dream of higher realms.
A feast for the ears
In addition to the large and very experienced orchestra—which draws its musicians from the congregations in Saxony and Thuringia—there were also some excellent soloists. The wonderful Simon Kasper, a 30-year-old piano teacher from Jever (Germany), together with the orchestra played a fresh and fiery rendition of the first movement of Beethoven’s piano concerto No. 3 in C-minor. It is the only piano concerto of the master (1770–1827) in a minor key. “The first movement is music at its best,” Beethoven experts say.
Mette Maschke (13), who is young in years but has already won numerous music awards, played very precisely. She is a very sensitive violinist and played the Prelude and Allegro in the Style of Pugnani by Fritz Kreisler, retaining her sensitivity even in the fast runs in the double stop section. Dany Weinert accompanied the violinist on the piano. Kreisler was not only a violin virtuoso, but also composed music. Several of his compositions are reminiscent of the tunes of old masters. The master would certainly have enjoyed the talent of this young musician.
The 90-minute concert was riveting and brilliant: a young ensemble, masterly qualities, and a programme put together with heart and mind, framed by the great oratorio Elijah at the beginning and end. To show their appreciation the audience rewarded the performers with standing ovations. One would have wished them a bigger concert hall. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider thanked the instrumentalists and choir: “You did a great joy!” For him and the District Apostles the concert was a beautiful element in preparing for the divine service on Sunday. “Everyone should always prepare for a divine service personally.”
The Pentecost service is a highlight in the course of the New Apostolic liturgical year: the worldwide transmission to all continents and well over 100 countries.
Photo: Oliver Rütten