Day of Prayer

Mona Preston raises her hands in prayer at the celebration of National Day of Prayer for Lee County on Thursday, May 4, 2017, at First Baptist Church in Opelika.

It’s not the return of THE Messiah, but it nonetheless is cause for timely celebration.

First Baptist Church of Opelika welcomed this weekend the Tuskegee Golden Voices to join in the church’s musical production of “Messiah.”

While Christmas naturally is the season that celebrates Christ, the more local significance is the wonderfully peaceful bridge Opelika FBC continues to build to bring black and white races together in a show of unity.

It is something that painfully was missing during an earlier time of the state’s history.

During the 1960s, racial segregation and tensions were in full swing throughout Alabama and the South. Unfortunately, this included our churches.

The divisions in our society were evident and obvious when in the 1960s, a choir from Tuskegee arrived to join in the same “Messiah” performance at the same church, only to be told to leave town.

“There was some resistance when the Tuskegee Institute was invited to be a part of the ‘Messiah’ event,” said Auburn University professor of music and director of choral activities, William Powell, of the 1960s episode.

Powell is leading the production this weekend, with the second and final performance set for 5 p.m. today at First Baptist.

“There was more than one person who said a word of warning to the pastor at that time,” he said. “These persons told the choir to leave town.”

Today, they are welcomed with open arms, and First Baptist should be commended for this and other programs and services recently provided that have helped promote community unity.

Christians who celebrate the Christmas season do so with song and actions that almost always include the words “love” and “good will.”

Loving our neighbor is exactly what the Bible tells us to do.

Seeing that put into practice and not just words is an encouraging step in making such celebration a shared joy, as it is intended.

It is a lesson put into practice that all of us should observe and share.

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