Your “Mess” Can Become a “Messiah”
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
George was a mess. One night in 1741, this bent old man shuffled listlessly down a dark London street. he was starting out on one of the aimless, despondent wanderings that had become a nightly ritual for him. His mind was a battleground between hope based on his past glories and despair based on the future.
George Frederich Handel couldn’t help but think of his roller coaster life…
For forty years he had written stately music for the aristocracy of England and Europe. Kings and queens had showered him with honors. Then court society turned against him, reducing him to poverty and illness. For awhile he experienced a recovery in health and fortune, until his patroness, Queen Caroline, died. As Handel sank deeper into debt, his heart sank deeper into depression.
Trudging into the warmth of his apartment that night, he discovered a package had been delivered– a commission to write a sacred oratorio. He would have preferred writing another opera. That is, until he began to read the words he was asked to set to music… “He was despised and rejected of men;” “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace;” and “I know that my Redeemer Liveth.”
As these words came alive with meaning and purpose, so did Handel. He became consumed with writing and then jumping up and running to the harpsichord. At times he would stride up and down the room flailing the air with his arms and singing at the top of his lungs, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” the tears running down his cheeks.
People thought he was going mad. For twenty-four days he labored like a fiend with little rest or food. Then he fell on his bed exhausted, with his new score, “Messiah,” laying on his desk. At the very first performance of “Messiah,” the King and Queen attended and spontaneously stood in reverence when the “Hallelujah Chorus” began. That custom has continued to this day.
Handel never again succumbed to despair. Age sapped his vitality, he went blind, but his undaunted spirit remained to the last. “Until us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” became words that gave him new life.
And through his oratorio, George Frederich Handel lit a torch that still shines.
This Child whom we celebrate during Christmas has great power to rescue those who are at the end of their rope – “messes” like you and me. To offer a lifeline which restores purpose and passion to a discouraged soul. To anoint with power so that even the most feeble of humans can make a divine offering back to the Giver.
What will your “Messiah” be this coming year?
- For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given;
- And the government will be upon His shoulder.
- And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
- Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
under the mercy, Cindy
©2017 Lucinda Secrest McDowell – adapted from Dwelling Places (Abingdon Press)
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