He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 137:3
One of my favorite Advent traditions is to play Messiah as I prepare my house and myself for Christmas. After the orchestra’s overture, Handel immediately assigns the task of setting the scene to the tenor who sings,
comfort ye My people,
saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem,
and cry unto her,
that her warfare is accomplished,
that her iniquity is pardoned.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness
Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
Make straight in the desert a highway
For our God.” (Isaiah 40:1-3)
The Children of Israel had experienced a long history of disobedience that finally resulted in exile away from the land of Promise. They were broken-hearted and could no longer sing the songs of Zion. Their sin had cut them off from God. But God in his love and compassion forgave and spoke hope and renewal to them. Their warfare was accomplished, and their iniquity was pardoned. And Messiah will come.
Our nation has been suffering greatly this year with unexpected deaths, suicides of young people, the opioid crisis, fires, anguish on our border, disunity, and foreign perils. Like Israel, we desperately need the comfort that only God can bring. We need forgiveness; we need healing; and we need renewal.
Messiah stirs us with the suffering that was inflicted on the Lamb of God. As we listen, we are drawn into the anguish that brought about our peace and salvation while there is always the reminder that redemption is near. The underlying motif continues to remind us that God’s salvation plan has been in place from time’s beginning, and Part 2 ends with the glorious Hallelujah Chorus. As we listen reverently to Part 3, the triumphant notes remind us that our Redeemer lives, death has been conquered, and he who is worthy reigns.
If you haven’t yet sat down in your easy chair by the fireside and listened to Messiah for this season, stop now and prepare yourself for a fresh encounter with the King of Kings. Hallelujah.
Father, thank you for the comfort we have with the coming of our Lord. May we rejoice and be glad in him. AMEN.