What does God have to do with Latvian art and culture?
By Charles Kelley
RIGA, Latvia – Every year the European Union selects a city to be the capital of European Culture. This year, Riga, Latvia has enjoyed this honor. 2014 has been filled with countless spectacular musical, dramatic, literary, and artistic events and festivals. Hundreds of thousands world over have enjoyed these events.
Also every year a small group of godly women, led by Inese Slesere, a former member of the Latvian Parliament, plan the National Prayer Breakfast. They always choose themes that coincide with matters important to Latvia. So this year, in light of Riga being the Capital of European Culture, they chose to praise God for the best things in Latvian culture. The theme was “And God created…” The location was an icon of Latvian culture, the National Art Academy.
More than 220 influential people from many walks of life came together for a fine breakfast and, more importantly, an intriguing program that emphasized God’s role in creativity and culture. Musicians played ancient Latvian instruments. The medieval bagpipes, made from goat skins, were interesting and odd at the same time. As they played their instruments, the verse “Make a joyful noise to the Lord” came to mind. Several speakers spoke about how Latvian culture has been shaped in part by men and women of profound faith.
I was the final speaker and after lots of prayer, study and thought gave a speech on “Culture and Faith.” Because God is creative, we have the capacity to create. Because we have been created in God’s image, we have the capacity to imagine, dream, hope for a different future and sense beauty. When our creative expressions are directed to the praise and glory of the Creator, God’s ultimate purpose is accomplished.
I closed with a story from 1998 when BBI led a high school choir to sing in the Latvian National Song Festival. It was an unforgettable experience to sing in a mass choir of 11,000 excellent voices. But even more profound was when we all sang Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” At the same moment, we experienced the best in Latvian culture and the best praise known to man.
This is our daily challenge and privilege. We are invited to live our lives creatively, not only for our own happiness but for the glory of the God who created….
The morning ended with everyone praying the Lord’s Prayer together and singing Latvia’s historic prayer and hymn “God Bless Latvia.”
Click here to read Chuck’s Prayer Breakfast speech PrBreakfastSpeechNov 7 2014