One of the things I love to do during the holidays is listen to Handel's Messiah or, preferably,to catch a concert of the Messiah. It is the perfect time to meditate on the life of Christ, to wish and mourn and sing HALLELUJAH all in one enthralling night, and leave in jubilant hope. I love to experience Scripture in it's rightful place of astonishing beauty. If there is a way to set apart time to reflect on the "meaning of the season," this, to me, is it.
Of course the most anticipated moment of the evening is the Hallelujah chorus, when the audience stands and I love the legend attached with this moment, that at the London premier of the Messiah, King George jumped to his feet because he mistakenly assumed that the concert was over. Of course the mistake is an easy one to make, as the music culminates at such a peak that even Handel is quoted as saying when he wrote the "Hallelujah" chorus, "I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the Great God himself."
But the concert is not over, and the story is not finished. The resurrection of Christ is the Great Hallelujah in history, but we are still living the story, still anticipating part three of the concert, when at last suffering and injustice and this incurable longing we live with will end and the baby Jesus, who became the sinless Lamb of God, will receive the glory He deserves. When "death will be swallowed up in victory."
And the standing up and sitting back down part carries such significance, doesn't it?
After years and years of Handel's Messiah, how many people have risen, and been seated . . .
How many times have I risen in praise, and fallen in sin
How many times have I risen in hope, and fallen in disappointment
How many times have I risen in joy, and fallen in depression
How many times have I risen in love, and fallen in selfishness
How many kingdoms have risen, and fallen
How much progress has risen, and how much destruction has fallen
How much suffering has been relieved, and how much has been created
How much courage has risen, and how much corruption has fallen
This mistaken rising as though the concert were finished, though laughable, is oddly comforting and hopeful.
This world is not the way that it should be, nor is it the way it will always be.
The Lamb of God, risen on the Cross, laid in a tomb.
On the third day, Risen.
Now seated in Heaven.
Waiting, with us, for part three.