O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain: O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold you God! Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
I went to the symphony to hear a performance Handel's Messiah this weekend. Not only is the music beautiful, but the words are so rich with meaning. They are rich in meaning because they are verses from the Bible.
The story of Christ is told from the prophecies, to his birth, to his death, and resurrection. I used to think that the Messiah was more appropriate for Easter and didn't fully understand why it was performed during Advent. But the more I think about it, it does make sense to have it at Advent. Why do we even celebrate the birth of Christ? We celebrate it because we know the Easter story. We know that Christ was born to be the Messiah, the Savior of a sinful people. We celebrate his birth because we know that through his death, we can have life. We celebrate his birth as a way of thanking God for sending his only son to become human, a helpless baby. When we remember his birth in the context of God's plan of salvation with the knowledge of his death and resurrection, we can sing the words of the Hallelujah chorus and celebrate his birth and everlasting kingdom.
I was talking to a coworker about the performance and he remarked that while he "hates religious music", he likes the Messiah and finds the Hallelujah chorus very moving. The music itself is beautiful and "moving", but I couldn't help but think of how much more meaningful it is when we know and believe the words and hear them or sing them as a praise to God. And it's appropriate to do that anytime, whether Easter, Advent or the second Tuesday in February.
Hallelujah: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever. King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah!