My friend invited me to attend a performance of Handel’s Messiah at a local Methodist Church. Sure, I thought, that’s a Christmas tradition I haven’t enjoyed for years! So in the rather gloomy cool weather we set off for the church and joined other clumps of friends and family trickling into the impressive sanctuary. While the congregation stumbled through several verses of Noel, the choir marched in and took their places across the front third of the sanctuary. I have to say, I wasn’t all that expectant about the quality of the program as I saw the wide variety of choir robes representing many local churches.
However, as a professional soloist began his rendering of “Comfort Ye My People” my heart began singing. The words began to soak into my soul, reminding me that the historical precedent of Jesus’ lonely arrival on earth was God’s proactive compassion for his people. The concert continued with movement after movement of musical renditions of God’s written Word. I found myself lost in the beauty of the words that ushered me into a place to gaze upon the majesty of the God of the earth. He is the God of the world, no matter how they ignore him, shut him out of their world, or scream against him. He is God.
By the time we reached the crescendo of the Hallelujah Chorus I was ready to stand and shout “This is our God. This is the God we serve. This is the God we are talking about! Look at Him. Give him praise.” And then the crowd roared with applause while the orchestra members bowed and each professional soloist received a surge of applause and a bouquet of flowers. Concert over, Crowds trickling out the doors and back to their cars.
I was so sorry the concert was over already. And I was grieved that the star of Handel’s Messiah did not receive his due. The star of the concert was not the stupendous composer, or the great director, or the magnificent soloists, the talented choir members, or the committed committee who organized the event. The real star was the God of all the Earth who sent Jesus the Savior of mankind. And in the buzz and hurry of the traditions of thanks, applause, and gifts we left him out of our applause and praise.
My renewed wonder at God’s splendor and Amazing Provision has stayed with me. And my longing has intensified for God’s name to be proclaimed and honored as he deserves. My prayer is that in all the buzz and hurry of Christmas traditions we remember to honor the real Star of Christmas.