As I write this I’m flying on a jet halfway back from the east coast. Been over there getting things ready to take a medical team over to the Philippines for a week to care for the poor and those unable to get good medical care otherwise. What a joy for us to be able to serve people in this way and for us as a church to be involved in this mission. You all have invested much over the past 12 years in your prayers, giving, and even hosting Filipino pastors who came over to visit. You have extended much grace to the Filipino people over the years.
As I fly over the country I am aware of the reality that I’m passing over hundreds of millions of people who are “walking in darkness” as Isaiah said, and many of whom are unaware that God has intervened on their behalf. You don’t have to be in the Philippines to be needy. Here in America we have some of the worst kind of neediness...the kind that is the result of being dead to God and blind to his mercy.
Isaiah said that these people who were walking in darkness were going to see a “great light”. But this light was not going to be the kind they would readily recognize. It’s hard to tell just where Handel was in his spiritual walk and his relationship with the Lord, but we do know that as he wrote the Messiah oratorio he was deeply effected. As he finished writing the Hallelujah Chorus he said “It was as if all heaven was opened to me”. He was “seeing a great light”....he was being changed even as he wrote some of the most profound music ever written. The Messiah was being revealed to him in a unique and fresh way. At one point, based on Is. 9:6 he wrote a chorus on the passage “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders and his name shall be called wonderful counselor, almighty God, everlasting Father, prince of peace.” Imagine...a child who represented all these things. No ordinary child. This child was the almighty God. He was the everlasting Father. He came to rule in peace. No ordinary child. This child was the “great light” that Handel saw and the world was waiting for. This great light was to come into the world as a baby born to lowly peasant girl in the most humble of circumstances. Ultimately his light would shine most brightly at his darkest moment, for this baby...this son, this “great light” was coming into the world for one purpose: to bear the sins of the world on his shoulders and receive the judgement of God for sin that all of us deserve. He was to become the “once for all” sacrifice on our behalf to pacify the anger of God. Isaiah prophesied it would happen centuries before it took place and God brought it to pass in the birth and death of Jesus.
Handel wrote about it centuries after Christ had come and risen again and was radically changed in the process of telling the story musically. As we once again recount the story of this little child will we be radically changed. Wouldn’t you want all of heaven to be opened up to you and see the ultimate glory of God being revealed in the life, death and resurrection of this little baby? I pray that we might experience just that...the “great light” that the Father sent into this world on behalf of millions of people who would believe in the Messiah. This baby king who would “take away the sins of the world”.
Handel finally saw it. I pray God would open our eyes to see it whether for the first time or in a new and fresh way that will radically change the way we see and do life. May the Lord let us “see a great light” and live in the reality of the wonderful good news: “unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
Have a wonderful, blessed Christmas season!