The annual choir tour is a long-standing tradition at Concordia Academy. Whether traveling near or far, Concordia has recognized the value of facilitating spring break trips for decades. At first glance, it may seem that a music tour is merely a code term for “spring break with my friends.” On the contrary, the tours that come out of Concordia Academy meet specific objectives intended to enrich the lives and education of those traveling. Our “His People” tour last month was no exception.
The student will grow more in Christ and with each other (fellowship).
The first indicator that this trip is not your average spring break is when you hear that you need to be on the bus at 7:15 am the first morning out. And that you will be on the bus for 10 hours with the same people. And then you will get off the bus and eat with them and stay at the same host home… and then do it all over again the next day.
Instinct indicates that those realities would reduce the interest in a tour. Surprisingly, a consistent top-scorer in post-tour surveys is “lots of bus time”. It’s about the people, say the students, and spending six days with them helps you to see them from different perspectives. They make up games, they sleep, they talk, and they laugh. One student commented, “The bus is like being in the living room with your family.”
The student will explore other regions of our country, its history, and points of interest (education).
Concordia Academy is a school. A school-sponsored trip includes learning. This year’s trip to Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Dallas revealed a myriad of mind expansion. Students learned about the history of jazz in Kansas City, the American Negro League of baseball; the heritage of cowboys, native Americans, and western life; the national tragedies of Oklahoma City in 1995 and Dallas in 1963; and the best barbeque along the way.
The students will share the gift of music with each other and with our audiences (music).
At times, the first two objectives with their natural appeal crowd out this one, but as we unload the bus at each singing destination, the students are renewed in purpose. Each venue offers a unique singing experience in structure and acoustics, and when the people arrive, the choir shares. There is joy in the singing together, with or without the audience, but as they see the joy transferred to the people in front of them, there is mutual fulfillment. It may be the 42nd time through the song for us, but it is new to the audience and it gives the song new life. Reflection after a performance often includes the responses they saw from people in the audience while they were singing.
The students will sing. A lot. (evangelism)
This one seems redundant on the heels of Objective 3, but a few years ago, I pulled it out as a separate piece because this includes the unscheduled performances. One student commented that the mission focus of the tour really came to life for her as we carried out this objective. Every day includes impromptu singing, sometimes facilitated by the director, sometimes by a chaperone, and sometimes by the students. A sampling of this year’s experiences include:
- American Jazz Museum with a professional drummer and bassist,
- parking lot in Henryetta, Oklahoma,
- Hallmark Factory in Kansas City,
- Arthur Bryant’s BBQ,
- Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas (Navy Hymn!)
- National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum,
- Drury Inn lobby in Kansas City.
The student will watch and see what God has planned for us (mission).
This piece is like putting together a puzzle. Throughout the tour there are both obvious, and not so apparent, gifts that God has set up for us or for others. Sometimes the gifts come on the heels of mishaps and are disguised at first. This came to life at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Dallas. We were 13 minutes into the introductory video when we had to evacuate because of a fire. Long story short: we eventually came back into the building, along with all the employees of the plant who were awaiting the all-clear to go back to work. As we prepared to leave the facility, we stopped in the middle of the lobby and sang for them. Had there not been the fire, we would not have had contact with those people.
At other times, the gift is obviously just for us. One of those happened at Oklahoma City. Across the street from the Murrah Building stood a Catholic church which was destroyed in the explosion of 1995 as well. The church kept the corner as a worship space and erected its own memorial to the victims. Imagine our delight when we saw the title of the statue was, “And Jesus Wept”. Our humble response was to gather around the statue and sing two songs from our tour repertoire, When Jesus Wept the Falling Tear, and Drop, Drop Slow Tears. There was no audience but One as we gathered around Jesus to worship and praise Him for His presence, His power, and His merciful love. For as the plaque at the site reads, “The watchful eye of God is always on His people.”