Friday, September 18, 2009

Singing The Lord's Song

This past week I read a story about Max Fuchs, 87, of New York City. As an Army soldier in WWII, Mr. Fuchs led the first Jewish service on German soil after the rise of Hitler.

On October 9, 1944 in Aachen, Germany, as a 22 year old veteran of the Omaha Beach D-Day landing, Private First Class Fuchs served as the cantor for the open-air worship service. NBC Radio was on hand to broadcast the historic occasion to the entire world.

“I was as much scared as anyone else,” Mr. Fuchs told the New York Times in an interview. “But since I was the only one who could do it, I tried my best.”

Before the war broke out, Mr. Fuchs was studying to become a cantor in his synagogue, the equivalent of Minister of Music in our Baptist churches. But he left his studies and entered the Army when his country called. His family immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1932 when he was a 12 year old boy. Many of his family members were killed when Germany invaded his home country in 1939.

The two hymns he chose for that historic worship celebration rejoiced in the Providential care of Almighty God, and the hope for redemption in the hereafter. As the men sang them that day, there were artillery shells exploding nearby. You can hear this on YouTube:

This story reminds me of the importance of singing the Lord’s Song.

We are privileged to live in a country where we can celebrate our faith in peace, without the threat of oppressive forces seeking to destroy our freedom.

Each Sunday as we gather for worship, we sing songs declaring our God’s great power to save and redeem.

Whether or not we have innate musical talent like Mr. Fuchs, I hope we will sing them every Sunday with the same urgent and passionate faith those soldiers sang them on that Jewish Sabbath day long ago.


Tim Reynolds said...

Thanks, Charlie. Too often we take our ability to worship for granted. As we celebrate our Baptist beginnings this year, we should remember that those early Baptists risked arrest, imprisonment, and potentially, execution just for gathering to worship God. This has been true for Jews as well. We need to keep a view of worship, in part, as a dangerous activity.

Charlie Johnson said...

Good reminder, Tim. Every time we gather for worship, we should be mindful of what our foremothers and forefathers suffered to get us here. If we had this mindfulness, maybe our worship would more approximate the "spirit and truth" we purport to seek.

Unknown said...

For some reason that story reminds me of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the price he paid for true worship in action.

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