Minister’s Reflection – Dec. 5/19
Rev. Dave Crawford
“Comfort Ye, Comfort ye, my people”
This weekend Miho and I will attend the CPO’s annual performance of Handel’s “Messiah”, a Christmas-time favorite all over the world. With lyrics taken directly from Scripture, Old and New Testaments, the sacred work tells the entire story of Jesus the Messiah (“Christ” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Messiah”, and some of you will know that the original New Testament documents were written in Koine Greek.).
The above photo is not of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus (which this weekend will include some 30-40 orchestra members and over 100 singers), but is rather a concert pic of the choir I sometimes sing with, the Bow Valley Chorus (I’m actually in this photo from a few years back but you may have to enlarge it to find me!). Since its inception in 1999, the BVC has performed “Messiah” numerous times, and I’ve been privileged to have been a part of it many times; the music, words, and season always impacting me spiritually, deeply!
George Frederic Handel’s “Messiah” begins with prophecy, specifically the prophet Isaiah. It is a hopeful word for a nation in troubling times, Israel in exile following the ancient national tragedy of defeat at the hands of the Babylonians, circa 587 BCE. In the midst of exile, cut of from the land, the Temple, a miserable existence in a foreign land, Isaiah nonetheless preaches of God’s ultimate faithfulness to God’s people. They will be restored! They will return and begin again! Have peace, O Israelites, have hope!
“Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God… A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;… then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:1-5)
As the tenor soloist begins singing softly, soulfully, the first words of “Messiah”, “Comfort ye, my people, saith your God”, it’s not too hard to transfer Scripture’s promise to ourselves, our own lives and times. Take comfort, Hebrews 2600 years ago in ancient Babylon, but so too, take comfort, Albertans in 2019, have hope, for it is the same God worshipped then and now, and that same God can be trusted, is faithful! Believe, my people, says God, believe that a way will be prepared for restoration, renewal, comfort, and hope! As was once accomplished through ancient covenant is renewed, so the story goes, renewed and enhanced through the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus from Nazareth, He who was from all time, who descended with grace for the world, and lives still.
I have no idea what music you enjoy at Christmas, but I sincerely hope you do enjoy it! Consider as well Handel’s Messiah. Whether on Youtube or some old cd, give it a listen and see if Handel’s inspired, dramatic combination of glorious music and holy words doesn’t move you. Maybe there are still some tickets left for the CPO’s performances? But even if you don’t get into classical music, perhaps allow yourself to get into the possibility that Christmas means more than special moments with family and friends, that something sacred, global, eternal, indeed cosmic has happened, is happening, in the Incarnation, the Nativity, the Word made flesh! Take comfort. God is near. God is Love. God is!!
Thanks be to God.