Last December I was in New Haven, Connecticut, and attended a Messiah sing-along with the Yale concert choir and orchestra in their marvellous chapel. This fall I joined a local choral group to perform Handel’s Messiah with another regional choir and a small local orchestra. Even though I drove nearly an hour each way for rehearsals and an hour and a half for one of the concerts, it was worth it. We gave three performances, well supported by the small-town communities.
I knew the choruses (“Unto Us a Child is Born,” “Worthy is the Lamb,” and, of course, the beloved “Hallelujah” [I got teary on that what when everyone stood], etc), would be incredibly worshipful. But as I sat through the solos for the third, fourth and fifth times (including dress rehearsals) I found the texts bringing to mind things to pray about.
“Comfort ye my people, saith your God; speak comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry to her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned.”
When was the last time anyone had a comfortable word to say to Jerusalem? Lord, may their warfare be accomplished and their iniquity pardoned. May the suffering of all the peoples of the Middle East be ended.
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”
O Lord, may those who think that burning and looting will accomplish their purposes, see your light. May your light shine into the dark places of our cities and our homes; on those trapped in a religion that hides Jesus from them; or in a mindset of domestic violence. Shine your light in Syria and Liberia, and other places where the shadow of death looms large.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; …behold, thy king cometh unto thee. He is the righteous Saviour, and He shall speak peace unto the heathen.
Righteous Saviour, may your people, descendants of Abraham, acknowledge you as king. May you bring peace to Pakistan, to North Korea, to Columbia, and to all who don’t yet know you.
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; and He shall gather the lambs in His arm and carry them in His bosom…”
Good Shepherd, carry my grandchildren close to Your heart.
“…and gently lead those that are with young.”
Bless my grandchildren’s mothers, my daughters. Raising kids these days is such a hard job. Lead them gently.
“Come unto Him, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and He shall give you rest. Take His yoke upon you, and learn of Him; for He is meek and lowly of heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Lord, I have loved ones who are still trying to labor on their own. They fear to take your yoke, thinking it will be prison instead of freedom. May they find rest for their souls.
"I know that my Redeemer liveth, … and though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that sleep.”
We have had so many deaths in our church this fall, from a three-year-old child, to a ninety-five-year-old GI who returned to Italy as a missionary. Father, comfort those families with the reminder that they will see, not only You, but their loved ones in heaven.
“The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Lord, there are people I know suffering from cancer, chronic illnesses, syndromes that have burdened them from birth and simply worn out body parts. I praise you for the new bodies you are preparing for them and for me.
I stand in awe of Handel’s power to create beautiful music and the incredible texts he chose from God’s Word. The next time you listen to this marvellous piece let it lead you into both worship and intercession.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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