The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined…
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, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
I love the poster that says, “Just when the caterpillar thought it’s world had ended, it became a butterfly.” Like the poster says, I have seen again and again how God gives new beginnings to his people.
The composer, George Frederic Handel thought his life had come to an end when he was moved to write his immortal oratorio, Messiah. His popularity had waned and he believed he had given his last concert. The public had lost taste for his kind of music. One London newspaper dismissed him as the “German nincompoop.” A string of bad investments had left him nearly penniless and facing debtors’ prison. Added to this was his paralysis from two strokes and the chronic pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Handel retreated to near seclusion and battled the darkness of his depression.
Then, unexpectedly, Handel received a parcel in the mail from his friend Charles Jennens. The parcel contained scriptures that Jennens wanted Handel to set to music. Strangely and powerfully Handel was taken up with the scriptures before him. He was so moved that he put pen to paper and began composing at a furious pace. Often going without food and sleep he completed the 226 pages of Messiah in only 24 days! At one point in his composing, he burst from his study with tears in his eyes and script in hand, declaring: “I think I did see heaven before me, and the great God himself seated on his throne.”
Handel’s Messiah opened to great acclaim on April 13, 1742, in Dublin, Ireland, and has ever since been a treasured part of our Christmas celebration. Yet Handel chose never to receive a penny from Messiah, but directed all receipts to charities, especially the care of homeless children and prisoners. At a Messiah performance in London honoring his seventy-fourth birthday, a blind Handel responded to the thunderous applause by saying: “Not from me, but from Heaven, comes all.”
From heaven had come Handel’s light and his inspiration for the darkest days. When he had feared his life was over God gave him new beginnings. What Isaiah foretold of Messiah’s coming was true for Handel, and is true for any who look to the Christ: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. For unto us a child is born…”
Let his Light shine!
- Add to your Advent celebration by joining us Tuesday, December 1, 8, 15, at 7:00 P.M., at the Franciscan Renewal Center for “The Gospel According to Handel’s Messiah.”
Awe-inspiring and sublime, Handel’s majestic Messiah has thrilled listeners for more than 250 years. In these Tuesday classes we will delve into Messiah’s text that is taken from the literal words of scripture and discover the historical and biblical background of the texts that inspired the music. This will surely add to your joy and this Advent!
- Weekly Bible Class on ROMANS 8: THE PINNACLE OF GRACE
Every Tuesday, 11:00 a.m., at the Franciscan Renewal Center
Bible scholars have described the eighth chapter of Romans as “the mountain peak of Scripture,” and the “chapter of chapters for the Christian.” Another commentator has said, “If Holy Scripture was a ring, and the Epistle to the Romans a precious stone, chapter eight would be the sparkling point of the jewel!” You’re invited to join us in an exploration of Romans eight and the heights of God’s grace!