On August 22, 1741, a brilliant but bankrupt composer shut himself away in his home and, over the next twenty-three days, wrote one of the most famous pieces of music the world has ever known.
Having begun his composing career as a wunderkind, this composer had grown up to be the talk of the nation, was famous around the world, and was the highest paid composer the world had ever seen. However, by this time those glory days had passed and most of his followers believed his inspiration was gone.
The humbling experience of moving ever-closer to the realm of “has-been” must have prepared the composer perfectly for the package he received one morning in the mail. In it was a collection of biblical passages about Jesus Christ. As he read through the passages a new sense of purpose enveloped him and in a remarkably short time, George Fredrick Handel had written Messiah, the oratorio that would make him famous even to this day.
Each year, Parker UMC hosts musicians from all over the community on the first Sunday of December for a performance of some of the more popular sections of Messiah. In fact, depending on when you are reading this, we either are about to perform it or have recently done so. Most of the sections we share with you are from the Christmas section of Messiah. This is appropriate given the time of the year. However, one song, the Hallelujah Chorus, is from the Easter section. It is a piece praising God for the resurrection of Christ. So why do we add it to a Christmas performance?
In addition to being the favorite part for many people, and simply being an incredibly powerful piece of music, I believe its inclusion in the performance is an appropriate reminder that the baby that we prepare for during Advent and whose arrival we celebrate on Christmas will grow up and one day take on Himself the sins of mankind. His death and resurrection free us from the power of sin and death, enable for us a special kind of joy and hope, and clothe us with righteousness that we could never accomplish on our own.
As Handel showed us, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ not only provides us a path of salvation after our death, but can also help us, strengthen us, and inspire us when we find that our earthly lives are in desperate need of resurrection. So during all the rushing around and the stress and the worrying this Christmas season, allow the good news of Christ to be present in your minds. Push Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty aside, and if you have kids or grandkids help them to do the same. Make room in your celebrations for the truth of the season- that God loves us all so much that he came to earth to save you and me. Hallelujah!