Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow. (Lamentations 1:12)
This week, tragedy in Portland, Yesterday, tragedy at an elementary school in Connecticut and a primary school in China, where guns are illegal and the media doesn’t report these stories in order to prevent copycat incidents (!!). And in Las Vegas too. Three years ago, a good friend and wonderful influence to me passed away. I think of him often this time of year.
And yesterday I was blessed by a friend to attend Handel’s Messiah for the first time. It did not escape me that the successful Seattle Symphony, progressive and liberal as the city it serves, gets on stage each year to sing God’s story of man’s redemption. Scripture read in a public forum, printed in the symphony program.
The conductor offered a lovely bit of advice about listening to Messiah.
“…read the text to what you’re going to hear in advance, so you have an idea of what you think about those texts. Then, during the performance, observe the way Handel makes these texts come to very vivid life. …don’t have an expectation of what I will be like or what the Orchestra will be like – have an expectation about how these words could sound, and then see what Handel does with them.”
Reeling from the loss, from the tragedy and the darkness and the sorrow of the day, I read the verses that inspired Handel’s music soberly. Suddenly, the prophecies about Jesus’ birth, that little baby’s first coming, were not so important as the prophecies about the next one.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 9:2)
Come, Lord Jesus. Thank you for coming the first time. Thank you God, for sending your son to suffer, that we may know our sympathetic high priest. And yet, darkness covers the earth. Gross darkness, whether it is evil motives and murderous thoughts or mental illness or poor legislation, gross darkness covers the people.
It is so evident that we need a savior. We cannot do it on our own. And what a savior we have. Not only sovereign and able to save, but suffering and able to save.
(all scriptures taken from the Symphony program for Handel’s Messiah, compiled by Handel’s collaborator Charles Jennens)