Yesterday we celebrated the third Sunday of Advent. The theme was ‘Joy’ and we remember this week the overwhelming joy of those who witnessed the coming of Jesus so many years ago.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare him room,
And Heaven and nature sing!
He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousness
And wonders of his love.
I really enjoyed seeing (and hearing) the Adelaide Chamber Singers brilliant performance of
Handel‘s Messiah last Friday night at St Peter’s Cathedral. Together with a small string orchestra, an organ, timpani and a couple of trumpets, they drew us into a beautiful reflection on the birth, passion and power of Jesus Christ. The near-perfect rendition was not abridged, even though the Christmas themes are confined mainly to the first part. Truly this work needs to be taken within the framework and context of the whole. One example of taking it out-of-context is the one chorus that is often used as a Christmas centerpiece: Hallelujah.
Within the oratorio, the Hallelujah Chorus appears at the end of ‘Part the Second’ which speaks about the passion of the Christ and his second coming as a righteous judge, who will shake the heavens and earth, who will laugh at the calamity of the nations, and will judge the heathen in his wrath. The culmination of this Divine rage is ‘Hallelujah! For 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.’
I have to say that I prefer taking this chorus outside of its context because, to me, it is a positive affirmation of the truth that one day Jesus will return and bring his perfect kingdom. In this new heavens and new earth, all will be as it was created to be. In that day the cry on everyone’s lips will be ‘Hallelujah, for the all-powerful Lord reigns.’
And I can think of no better thought this Advent season than that of the One who was born in a manger, who walked on this earth, who took on our humanness, and who ultimately conquered death, coming once again to this earth in answer to our prayer ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done; as in heaven, so on earth.’
Even so, come Lord Jesus.