On this beautiful day during our "Babí léto" (the Czech word for Indian summer), Dave and I had the privilege of attending a special anniversary.
The Církev Bratrská in Český Těšín, a church JV has partnered with for many years, celebrated its 50th anniversary.
I remember walking on this very sidewalk nearly twenty years ago when we first visited the church shortly after moving here, when we knew almost no one.
How differently I felt today, excitedly anticipating all the dear people we've known for years now who we would be with on this special day in their church!
Planted fifty years go by the Církev Bratrská church in nearby Hrádek, a church with its own rich spiritual history, the church in Český Těšín is now one of the largest churches in the CB denomination here in Czech.
As a slide show of old photos played before the service began, I actually had tears in my eyes thinking about the vibrancy of this body of believers who have walked so faithfully with the Lord, and been so instrumental in many coming to know Jesus through their enduring witness.
And they continue to grow and multiply! Along with vibrant youth and adult ministries, how precious to see all these little ones up front today.
I couldn't help but think of how they are the next generation of leaders, workers, elders, worship leaders, Sunday school teachers and more for this church!
Greetings were given by all the former pastors of the church, including the first one who started the church 50 years ago! He is retired and lives several hours away now, but gave a heartfelt greeting by video to those who were gathered this morning.
I don't know much of his story, but do know that his years of pastoring were surely not easy as they were during the years of the Communist regime. This is a man who endured much for the sake of the Bride of Christ.
One of the things I enjoy about this church is that it's filled with excellent musicians. I've been there on other occasions through the years and every time the worship is beautiful and meaningful.
This morning was no exception.
One of their excellent worship teams led us all into the presence of God this morning. Honestly I could've sang for an hour with them! They were so God honoring.
After words about the beginnings of the church, greetings from the pastors, the children singing, worship, and music by a choir from Hrádek, it was time for the message.
Many months ago Dave was asked by the elders to be the guest speaker for their 50th anniversary.
What an honor for him to be able to bring the message from God's Word this morning to this wonderful church.
Speaking from a very interesting text in Leviticus 25, he talked about the year of Jubilee, also known as the year of Grace.
It was a year to: forgive all debts, come back to your tribe/family and let the land rest.
Dave shared stories and insights into these things that were to be practiced in the year of Jubilee, and then gave people opportunity to ask the Lord how it might apply to their own lives right now.
He finished by saying how it is only possible to do them if we are dependent on God's grace, and how His grace today is just a foretaste of what we will have in full someday in heaven.
My explanation doesn't sound nearly as good as Dave's sermon was! It's never the same to explain a sermon as opposed to being there while it's being given.
It was a powerful message, one that I won't forget and I assume others won't either. It will probably be online at the church's website, but since he gave the sermon in Czech, my American family and friends who don't speak the language will just have to trust me when I say it was good!
After many precious conversations and connections with people after the service, we went to daCapo, our all-time favorite restaurant, for lunch with the pastors and their wives. Oh what sweet fellowship we had together.
We rejoice in all that God has done in and through this church over the past fifty years. And we pray with expectation that the next fifty years will be even more fruitful!
-That many more will put their faith in Christ
-That the church body will have great influence on the entire city.
-That more churches will be planted from this body.
And that they will disciple leaders who will be used by God across the country and beyond the borders of Czech for the expansion of God's Kingdom.
Happy Anniversary Církev Bratrská in Český Těšín!