It’s a strange thing to be making cookies and wrapping presents,
When wars are raging,
When families are crumbling,
When parents are burying their children.
The news is hard to watch this week.
Tears come easily, yet so does relief…
Which brings with it a twinge of guilt.
How do we reconcile the great cosmic chasm -
Our world has more than its share of darkness, pain, and evil,
Yet we move in and breathe the reality of Starbucks, Amazon, and Buddy the Elf.
Perhaps it’s more of a dual reality to be acknowledged than a chasm to be crossed.
This year during Advent, we’ve been working our way through listening to Handel’s Messiah (schedule found here). Each day, we’ve been listening to a few of the songs after reading the corresponding passages of scripture.
We’ve read, then listened, then listened again. I’ve heard the music of the Messiah throughout much of my life, yet this year, it’s as if I’ve really heard it for the first time. As we’ve listened intently to each song, a divine magic has transpired. Handel’s music, echoing its ancient truths and promises, has become our own. To enjoy, to discuss, to savor, to absorb.
The children composed poems in response to several of the songs. I’ve woven a few of them together as a memorial stone for this Advent season. This is Handel’s Messiah, as seen through the eyes, heard through the ears, and experienced in the hearts of my young ones:
Heaven kissed earth
He came as a whisper, a snowfall, a spark
He was born in a manger
Heaven crawled through the dust
He played in the garden
He healed the sick,
Yet his work was not done
He was beaten and whipped
He wore a crown of thorns on his head
He let himself be hung on the cross
He rose from the dead
He will come again victorious
Blinding darkness with light,
Death will gasp its final breath
Evil forever defeated,
Then all the wrongs through history
Will finally be made right
Ribbon will wind through
The hot dry desert
Rainbow to straighten curves
Every mountain will become low
Every valley high
Every mansion will become small
Every cottage will grow
The hungry shall have banquets laid out before them,
The imprisoned shall have their chains dashed to the ground
The large rocks will shrink
Pebbles will grow to boulders
All will be even
The valley will rise
Mountains will disintegrate
All will be even
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
We spent days contemplating the implications of twelve words uttered by the prophet Isaiah, “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low.”
Do we really believe it? Down deep where our core beliefs compose the background music that sets the tone for our everyday lives? Even when wars rage and children are murdered? When evil rears its head and seems to be winning? When our lives, our plans, our dreams are crumbling?
That’s what He came to do, after all.
To heal the blind.
To bind up the brokenhearted.
To make all the wrongs right.
For in this, we can place our hope.
So bake your cookies,
and wrap your presents,
and sing the carols for the world to hear.
Through each small hopeful act,
You’re shining a light into darkness,
Taking part in raising valleys and lowering mountains,
Preparing a way in the desert
For the One who was,
And is to come.
* Artwork by Sam Silander, 9 yrs.