A NEW LEARNING
It’s only the 24th of November and Christine and I are listening to Il Divo’s Christmas CD during our supper. Yes it’s early. Americans haven’t even celebrated their Thanksgiving. But retail outlets have been displaying and selling everything Christmas for weeks. Last Friday was mild and dry so we strung our outside lights. Nearby homes are already brightly illuminated. We have done our Christmas gift shopping, not only to avoid that frenetic December rush but also to insure we would obtain what we truly want. This coming Saturday, the 29th of November Christine and I will take four of our five grandchildren to a Christmas pantomime. We had to reserve those seats months ago. Maybe that will be one of our best gifts to each other this year. We still have the big house with space enough for the entire festive family. Our three families have tried to coordinate our calendars for a day when we can each cut a Christmas tree for our homes, a lifetime tradition for us. Christine and I finally close to buying an artificial, pre-lit and pre-decorated tree – maybe next year. Certainly when we sell the house and move into a condo. I know I will miss the evergreen scent but I understand you can buy it in a spray can. As soon as December begins, George Frederick Handel reigns supreme in our home. The Messiah is enjoyed repetitively.
Yet as we listened to Il Divo’s magnificent music tonight, I experienced a melancholic moment. This will be my first Christmas without mom and dad. Living a nation apart made it impossible through these last years to celebrate Christ’s birth together. But they were only a phone call away. That is until Mom was no longer coherent, and later as Dad’s hearing made conversation difficult. At least they were there. I knew that. All was well. Perhaps with fresh ears I will listen to Handel’s oratorio this year and the profound hope he expressed within that extravagant composition.
It is in the third movement that exquisite words from Job, and 1 Corinthians and Romans and Revelation are woven into a tapestry of confidence. I will string them together. “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand on the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead. . . the firstfruits of them that sleep. Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. If God be for us, who can be against us? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. . . . Blessing, and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Amen.
All is well.
Listen to Il Divo's 'O Holy Night' in Washington December 2006
Or, Handel's 'Glory to God' by the London Symphonic Orchestra and Chorus
And have you ever witnessed an Amen like this one