Saturday, December 10, 2016

A Night with Amateurs

Last night I received an early Christmas present.  My daughter bought me a ticket to the Messiah Sing along at the Southern Theatre and her daughter 12 year old Addie accompanied me.  I did not understand what it was until I got there.

The entire audience was people filled with people with scores from the Messiah who sang along with the symphony.  The symphony was ProMusica musicians side by side with high school student musicians.  We sat in the front row of the balcony and could see  everyone and had people singing around us.

The Messiah for me has some very special memories.  My father sang bass in  community chorus as well as  a wonderful church choir and I have swonderful  memories of watching him and having choral music be part of our Christmas season.  My parents would frequently play The Messiah on the record player when we were home.

I was overwhelmed by all of it.  The music itself, the words which come from the prophet Isaiah and speak to my soul, the singers, the musicians and sitting with Addie.  There are parts of the Messiah that are really hard to sing and some people dropped out as they got to those places but nothing mattered.  They were singing together these familiar words that are part of this season of preparation.
And there were moments when they all came together singing " Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" that made my heart almost burst.

And so we come to one of the readings today which is a Psalm - one of the 150 Psalms which are songs to God.  And I am sure for the people of Israel, these words were as familiar to them as the words of the Messiah are to me.  And I can picture people 3000 years ago saying/singing them as people last night sang them together.  And they were not professional singers - they were amateurs - singing for the love of it with gusto and love.

Psalm 146:5-10

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

These words become a touchstone for us so that we remember how good God is - the one who sets the prisoners free and opens the eyes of the blind and lifts up those who are bowed down.

I am so grateful to be lifted up by the experience.  I pray for all of us that our voices can come together and soar like the sopranos did last night.  Remembering the goodness of God and the promise of new life that we keep finding in Jesus.

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