Sing, Daughter Zion;
Shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
The Lord has taken away your punishment,
He has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
Never again will you fear any harm.
Much of my upbringing when I was young was secular, so our usual preparations for Christmas involved trimming the tree, exchanging gift ideas, and baking cookies. But, as I moved into my 20’s and living on my own in Chicago, I was introduced to a tradition that taught what seemed to me the true nature of the Christmas season and the true meaning of the coming of Christ.
At the time I was working for the State of Illinois, and one of my co-workers, who was a fellow violinist, invited me to join him in playing at the Do-it-Yourself Messiah in Orchestra Hall. I was thrilled at the thought of actually playing in Orchestra Hall, but what ultimately captured my interest was the wonderful music that Handel wrote and the marvelous soloists who performed with us. The energy level for rehearsals was high, but peaked when we performed with the audience that joined in the performance. This was a tradition that I enjoyed for subsequent years as well, until, unfortunately, other things in life interfered.
In thinking back on the music, in particular I recall the intensity of the bass soloist singing that the Lord of Hosts said: “Yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come.”
At this time of year, we can rejoice in how the Lord moves us, fills us with hope, and alleviates our fears.
During this season, please shake us from our slumber, both emotional and physical, so that we may appreciate and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and the beauty of the season.
Help us to love one another and to keep that spirit alive throughout the year.
Let us trust in you completely, so that we cease to fear harm, accept what the season brings, and keep it with us always. Amen.