For me, Christmas time would not be the same without Handel’s Messiah, though it is not often that I have the opportunity to attend a performance as an audience member. But whether as a singer or in the audience, there is nothing quite like experiencing the grandeur and majesty of Handel’s melodious composition, the blessed words of Isaiah and the prophecy of the coming and birth of Jesus, the Christ.

This year I attended a performance in a small neighborhood church in Newport Beach, where a friend was singing in the choir. The Sanctuary was filled with holiday lights, red ribbons, a gorgeous Christmas tree, poinsettias, and holiday cheer and anticipation.  After all, it is Christmas and we have been sequestered away for two years, unable to see family and friends and safely share time and space with those we love.

So, I sat in the corner of a pew – my favorite place to hunker down and enjoy a good religious concert – and took a deep breath, through my mask. Yes, we could opt to not wear them, but I planned on singing a little – especially the Hallelujah Chorus – so better safe than sorry!

I listened to the opening piece, “Comfort Ye,” the beautiful tenor aria that leads us into “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted.” Filled with emotion and memories, I cried.  Remembering how many years I celebrated the Christmas holiday with Handel and the words of Isaiah as I thought to myself, “What is it like to be a Christian?”

Growing up, I always questioned why them and not us, not me. How does Santa know I’m a Jew? Why must I remain separate from those that are called Christians?

But now I see the world, humanity, through the eyes of a mature woman. As I sat in that church, I felt God everywhere – in the pews, in the people sitting and listening, in everyone joining in to sing the Hallelujah Chorus. God, Love, was in the music and the words, and in our hearts and breath and individual sounds. We were together and no one paid attention to whether I was Jewish or Christian or Muslim. For those moments we were one, loving the music and the story and feeling what we call “the Holiday Spirit.”  

I am a Jew who loves this time of year. And my heart aches for us – all of us. I grew up with the hope of the coming of the Messiah, with the hope of peace on earth. I grew up being taught we were all the same and to be respectful of everyone. Sometimes I feel we have forgotten those values and beliefs. And yet, I still have hope for us. I pray for healing and that we all might live together in harmony. 

I am a Jew who loves God and honors Jesus and finds peace in the knowledge that He loved God too, and that He knew “secrets” yet to be revealed, because the truth is not out there in a book or a story – that is the road map – the truth is within us waiting to be found and lived. Some believe that truth is found through another and some believe it is through God… no matter the way, the truth is within each and every one of us. 

If we are to change this world and live together – not all the same but in honor of our differences and beliefs – than we must each find the love that resides within us and open our hearts to one another. No matter the pain we have endured. Life happens, and our response too often is, “I’m closing my heart.” But Spirit, God, laid “Its” hands on us and said, “Open thy heart – allow Me to ‘crack it open’ that you might feel more deeply, purely, faithfully.”

Nachamu, Nachamu, Ami. Yomar Eloheychem  
Comfort Ye, Comfort Ye my people, saith your God …
Isaiah 40:1, 2

May we take comfort at this precious time of year in remembering who we are, in reaching out to one another, and holding God and Love in our hearts.

May we choose peace.                                      

5 Comments

  1. Dear Marcie…I SO appreciate reading what the Messiah means to you, and I especially will take away the last message of this essay: “May we take comfort at this precious time of year in remembering who we are, in reaching out to one another, and holding God and Love in our hearts.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Marcie, I’m so glad to read your blogpost here. Like you, I am used to singing the Messiah onstage with the symphony. It feeds the soul. And I also grieve not having that experience that we shared together. But here you have given me the idea of bringing out my CD’s (yes, it’s long and there are two) and not only listening, but singing along. It will enrich my Christmas. I thank you for that, my dear friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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