A Bible Based Talk at School

May 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm | Posted in Personal Testimony, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

All three teachers in the music department at my daughter’s school are leaving to pursue other endeavors.  It made for a sad Music Awards Banquet this year.  The music booster club bought gift cards for each, and I was asked to present them to the teachers, since I am comfortable speaking to a crowd with a microphone.  Here is the text version of my talk.  I changed the names here to protect their identity.

I was asked by the music booster club to say a few concluding words, so I want to tell you a story.  This is a story of one of my heroes on the pages of history, and though you may wonder where this is leading, bear with me a bit and that will become clear.

My hero is man named Ezra, who lived at the height of the Persian Empire.  He was appointed by King Artaxerxes to travel to Jerusalem and teach the people there.  So, in 458BC, Ezra took the three month journey on foot to Jerusalem and started his teaching career in that city.  He taught successfully there for many years.

When he had been there about 12 years, King Artaxerxes made another appointment to Jerusalem.  He assigned one of his officials named Nehemiah, who happened to be Jewish, to travel to Jerusalem, become the governor of the territory and rebuild the wall around the city, which had been in ruins for 140 years.  So Nehemiah also made that journey, and in 446BC he directed the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem.  Nehemiah rallied the people to complete the wall in an amazing 2 months, and has been an example of great leadership ever since.  But that is not our concern today.

After the wall was built, Governor Nehemiah decided to celebrate its completion with a day of dedication.  He appointed two choirs and a band for the occasion.  Nehemiah had Ezra lead the first choir onto the wall they had just completed, and, with the band, they marched around the wall singing.  Nehemiah led the other choir onto the wall, and they walked around the city in the opposite direction.  It must have been quite a sight.  Some people speculate that one choir would sing and the other would answer in an antiphonal manner.  I’m sure it sounded amazing in the city.  Both choirs continued like this until they met at the famous Jerusalem temple and there became a single huge choir and band.

We know about this event because Governor Nehemiah kept a journal which we still have with us and can read today.  He recorded in his journal that “they rejoiced with a great joy,” and that “the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.”  That kind of music had not been heard in Jerusalem for a long time.

The man who directed the band that day was named Zechariah.  (If you know of some men by that name from these times, this is probable not them, for Zechariah may have been on the list of top baby names in the area for centuries.)  This Zechariah had quite a pedigree, for he was a descendant of Asaph, whom the Israelites still consider the greatest music leader they’ve ever known.  It is possible that he was named after Asaph’s assistant director who was another Zechariah.  Today, I’m honored to present to Mr. Assistant, the “Zechariah Award,” for being a great assistant, and for leading the band at a critical time.  Thanks for encouraging our children.  I’ve observed that you are a great encourager, and though my daughter has not had you as a teacher, you have still encouraged her in her college and career decisions in a way no one else could have.

It’s also an honor to present to Ms. Choir the “Governor’s Award for Joy.”  Governor Nehemiah was the one who reported that they rejoiced with a great joy, the kind they hadn’t seen for years.  You have brought a great joy to our music program, the kind that hasn’t been seen here for years.  That is probably one of the reasons the choir program has grown so much under your leadership.  At the Christmas concert this year, I ended up sitting at the very end of the bleachers, where I was actually in front of you.  It was so much fun watching you lead, for joy and enthusiasm just bleed out to everyone who sees you.  May you take and spread that joy everywhere you go.

Finally, I need to back up and tell you another part of the story.  For all this music began a few generations earlier with Asaph.  Asaph was appointed by King David to be the music leader in Israel.  That’s no small matter, for if you know your history you will recognize that King David was a tremendous musician himself.  Asaph held that position for a long time, all the way through David’s reign and well into the reign of David’s son Solomon, the years known as the glory days of Israel.  Asaph started a school of music which lasted for generations, impacting many who followed.  We still have about a dozen songs which Asaph wrote, and they are still sung or read in churches and synagogues around the world today.  So I am honored to present to Mr. Band the “Asaph Award for Excellence in Leading.”  You began and built this program which has already impacted generations of students.  Thanks for your commitment, your discipline and your high standards.  You have challenged our children to achieve a high standard of excellence that they never would have achieved without your encouragement.

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