More Than a Song

by Sarah Nelson

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11

Years ago while I was a student at AFLBS (Association Free Lutheran Bible School), Pastor Tom Olson was our Choral Club (now called Proclaim Choir) director.   He had no easy task getting a group of 18-20 year olds to reign in their energy, focus their attention on sheet music, and respond to his direction.   He quickly won our trust and cooperation as he made being in that choir about more than just singing words and hitting (hopefully) correct notes.  It was an opportunity to sing praises to Our Lord and King with brothers and sisters in Christ.  Pastor Olson cared about us performing to the best of our abilities to honor God, but he cared about something else more.  He cared about us knowing Jesus, living in harmony with one another (so important on those long bus tours), and pointing others to the Savior!

Before our Spring Tour in 1986, Pastor Olson gave us an assignment.  It wasn’t to learn Amazing Grace in Norwegian, nor was it to write postcards to our parents from every tour stop.  It was to memorize Philippians 2:1-11.  My first thought was not one of enthusiasm.  As the pianist (struggling) I already had work that I needed to get done before we left on tour.  Yet, I worked on committing that portion of Scripture to memory.  After all these years, I don’t remember many of the song titles we performed.   I don’t remember the names of all the churches and towns we visited.  I do remember those precious words from Philippians.  I remember the words of a young pastor in training who cared enough to help a group of college age students realize the great sacrifice Jesus gave for each one of us.  I remember the encouragement he gave us to look to Jesus as our example of humility, and of putting others first so that we may glorify God.  Lessons well taught, and long remembered.