Being a Christmas person, I am already into the holiday with decorations, rehearsals for the choral Christmas concert, most gifts purchased, and plans made. Last night I had my annual infusion of classical Christmas music — The Messiah with its message proclaiming the heart of the meaning of Christmas: the advent of the Child who is called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
The memorable passages which resonate throughout the year include:
O Thou that tellest good tidings to Zion. . . Arise, shine for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
There were shepherd abiding in the field. . . And lo! The angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them. . . Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men. To me, this is one of the most exhilarating moments of the Christmas story. Try to imagine seeing angels in a night sky filled with the glory and light of God. Could anything be any more beautiful? And then they SING! Not just a few, but a MULTITUDE!
He is the righteous Savior, and He shall speak peace unto the heathen. God loves EVERYONE! “He is . . . not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
He was despised and rejected of men: a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. . . He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities. . . And with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Oh, my. . . We do want our own way; don’t we? We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, yet He loves us so much that He was willing to send His Son to die for us, and the Son was willing to endure shame and excruciating pain for our sakes. Amazing grace!!!
Lift up your heads, O ye gates . . . and the King of glory shall come in. . . Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts.
And then comes the ultimate masterpiece of music which incited King George II to stand in 1743, out of respect for the King of Kings. If the king is standing, then all stand. All have stood ever since at the first strains of its heavenly melody. You can’t help but jump to your feet at its awesomeness.
Hallelujah! The Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah!
That may be the high point, but there is more to come!
I know that my Redeemer liveth. . . Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Christ had to become human to rescue us from our sinful state. Because Adam sinned and died, we sin and die. BUT Christ has broken the bounds of death. He arose, and we will rise from the dead as well.
Behold I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep; but we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. . . And this mortal must put on immortality.
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever. Amen.
My spine is tingling. How about yours?