Last week I had the privilege of singing Handel’s Messiah with a community orchestra. I love the entire Oratorio and we listen to it frequently at home, but what a powerful experience to be there in the midst of it all. Just feet away from soloists and a small orchestra – oboes! violins! a harpsichord! And the astounding way Handel expresses the scriptural text with his masterful composing! I can barely describe what a fabulous, moving, spiritual experience this was.
I’ve heard this all many times, but I was richly blessed by the very opening:
Comfort ye, 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.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
How beautiful that this is the first statement we hear in a work written to tell the story of the Messiah. Comfort. He came (and is coming again) to comfort His people.
How appropriate to consider the voice crying out in the wilderness during Advent! And is not this “wild desert” so often an apt description of my own heart? Yet in those times of seeming desolation, He always comes. So as we celebrate the season anticipating Christ’s arrival – both the remembrance of his birth and the glorious revelation all flesh shall see together when he returns – I cling to Him. This is my prayer:
Cry out and be heard in my wilderness.
Make straight in my desert a highway.
Make what is crooked in my heart straight.
Exalt me in my valleys and make my rough places plain.