MESSIAH

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For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6

I’m always torn when writing the title…  one of my professors in college threw a fit when someone referred to this work as Handel’s Messiah.  He told the student (thankfully it was not me) that it is simply MESSIAH and it’s not necessary to preface it with the author’s last name.  So, I split the difference – I didn’t put Handel’s name in the main title but added it on to the banner.  Everyone happy?  Good.  Let’s move on and talk about this magnificent work.

The oratorio Messiah by George Frederic Handel, although clearly stating “To God alone the glory,” was still met with skepticism and some even considered the work to be blasphemous!  Can you imagine?  It reminds me of the split reaction witnessed in my generation when “Godspell” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” were released.  No, it’s not Handel, but you get my drift, right?

So, Handel thought he could fan the flames a bit by scheduling the premiere in Ireland instead of London because he didn’t want to be close to the Anglican Bishops.  He also advertised the piece as A Sacred Oratorio instead of emphasizing the name Messiah.

As most of us know, the piece depicts the life of Christ and not just one aspect.  It was written for Easter originally since it ends with the popular and majestic Hallelujah Chorus.  Actually, only the first third of the work is dedicated to the birth of Christ.  The second act is about the death of Christ and the third act of course focuses on His resurrection.  It premiered in the spring during the Lent season.

But here’s what transpired…  Laurence Cummings, the conductor of the London Handel Orchestra, determined that the work would be fitting for Christmas, noting that there is so much fine Easter music already, but very little music for Christmas.  By the 19th century, Messiah quickly became a Christmas staple, especially in the United States.

It blows my mind that Handel wrote the 259-page score in about 24 days with minimal errors.  Richard Luckett, author of Handel’s Messiah:  A Celebration, writes that there are some uncorrected errors or blotted out notes, but remarkably few mistakes considering the speed in writting the score.

We’re reminded by Lucinda today that Jesus is the Way to have life eternal in Heaven.  Aren’t we thankful?must-be-jesus

For Unto Us a Child Is Born is my favorite portion of Messiah that addresses the birth of Christ.  I once had the amazing opportunity to sing in a choir that performed this work and it’s probably the most challenging cantata I’ve been part of – but it was such fun to learn, and as an alto, it kept me on my toes.  There is so much back and forth, especially in this song.  If you lose your place you’d better just drop out until you figure out where you are – you could be singing along with the tenors if you aren’t careful.

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MARK 8:27 ON 8/27

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Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”  – Mark 8:27

JESUS, THE I AM

Jesus decided to talk with the disciples seriously about His death on the cross in a place where they would be alone and not be disturbed.  Out of the blue, He asks the question, “Who do others say I am?”  Was He all that concerned with His reputation?  I don’t think so, because He quickly moves to a more pointed question:  “Who do YOU say I am?”  He wanted to know that His followers were going to stay with Him and share His gospel even after He was gone.

We know that the locals could not wrap their mind around the fact that Jesus was God’s Son.  After all, they knew Him as little Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph.  Other’s thought he was a great prophet, but there were many of them around.

Finally, Peter answered Him and declared that He is the Christ, Son of the living God.

I can’t make you put Christ in first place.  You can’t make me put Christ in last place.   The question is before you and me every day…  Who do you say that I am?  It’s good that the question is recorded in the Bible.  We need to answer it for ourselves.  Nobody else can answer it for you.

The decision you make regarding Christ Jesus is the most important one you will ever make.  I’m not being dramatic – I’m being honest.  Mark reminds us that the evidence is in, and each of us must choose to just be amazed and awed by His miracles, or make Christ the center of our lives.  He is the Messiah, Son of God, Savior of all mankind.

I’ll leave you with this thought…  if we underestimate Who Christ Jesus is in our lives, it takes the meaning and the power out of His life and His ministry on earth.  More importantly, it impoverishes the infinite preciousness of His death on the cross at Mount Calvary.

Ponder that today and decide Who you say Christ Jesus is.  🙂

 

 

 

LUKE 6:22 ON 6/22

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Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.  – Luke 6:22

Does it bother you to be excluded from the “popular” group?  Do you think co-workers or others in your class hate you, or at the very least misunderstand you?  Well – me too, but I want to encourage you and let you know that God is blessing you while the world turns its back on you.

When we trust Christ and accept His gospel, it means there is an automatic target painted on our backs.  We have to  keep the eternal perspective in mind and remember that God’s blessings on our lives is forever and the acceptance or rejection of other people – well, it’s temporary and means little or nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Really – sometimes when we are excluded from some activities – it’s nothing that we need to be engaged in to begin with.  God really does protect His children from harm and keeps us safe.  We have to lean more on Christ when we are feeling especially left out.  By the same token, we need to pray that God will provide a safe haven with like-minded friends where we can feel accepted and loved.

Why is church so important?  It’s almost like a support group of sorts, where we are not seen as the world often sees us.  Finding a group of believers where you can feel comfortable and at ease to speak your thoughts and beliefs means so much to Christians.

While we are not to spend all of our time hidden inside the church building with like-minded brothers and sisters, it’s good to have a soft place to land after we’ve done our best to share the good news of Christ with a world that does not even almost understand what we’re talking about.

At times, we will be hated and rejected in this world simply for what we believe.  We profess, preach, teach and believe the full gospel of Christ from beginning to end.  Our Messiah came in the flesh and was the Son of God according to His divine nature, yet the son of man according to His human nature.

He walked the earth doing miracles – doing good.  He suffered, bled and died on a cruel cross as the Lamb of God – the only worthy sacrifice for the sins of every man on earth.  By the power of God He arose from the grave and sits at the right hand of the Heavenly Father.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left us a helper known as the Holy Spirit.  God’s Holy Spirit helps us navigate this life and do what God would have us do.

One day God the Father will instruct Jesus to come back to earth to take those who love and trust Him to heaven to live forevermore.

MEET GOD AT THE DOOR

God blesses His children – even when others make fun of us, reject us, and intentionally hurt us because of our faith.  It’s my prayer that you will notice less of the temporary hurt and look beyond to the eternal blessing from your Heavenly Father.  🙂