19th December 2013

Reflections from Handel’s Messiah
Part 2: Exciting News! 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people’”
Luke 2:10 (NIV 2011) 

After moving house, I lost my CD recording of Handel’s Messiah. I waited patiently for it to turn up, but alas it never did. So, I bought the 1959 recording conducted by Malcolm Sargent, which interprets some of the choruses differently to what I was used to. 

The rendition of “Glory to God in the Highest” is fantastic. The first time the choir sing the refrain “Glory to God”, it is quiet, only just audible. The singing then grows louder and louder until the whole choir sings at full volume. 

This has made me ponder about the shepherds on the hillside just outside Bethlehem. Apparently, the shepherds of the time were known for having the odd alcoholic drink or two (or maybe three…), as they sought to battle the cold of the night. 

So imagine the scene. The sun has set and the shepherds have their first “nip” of the night as all settles down into the usual routine. Then they see an angel. 

At this point I think I would be promising myself never to drink again! But the angel appeared to be bursting with news: “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11). 

Then they would hear a quiet sound – is that singing? As they look around, the singing gets louder and louder until the whole sky suddenly lights up with angels singing glory to God. Astounded, the shepherds tumble over themselves to get to Bethlehem – just what was this sight that they needed to see? 

This is how I see the event in my mind. Perhaps it is completely wrong! But it doesn’t matter, for the key element to grasp is that of excitement. God was doing something new, something tied up with the life of the newly born Jesus. 

We are fortunate to know even more than the shepherds. This little boy was in fact God in the flesh. Jesus is God’s action to show that he hasn’t abandoned humanity to death and destruction. Jesus is good news. Jesus is exciting news! 

“Glory to God in the highest heaven.” (Luke 2:14) 

Father, fill our hearts with the excitement that Jesus is indeed God as well as human. Jesus is not just another good teacher, but the very One who redeems our condition and makes us whole again. To you be glory in the highest.

Study by Ian Woodley


ianwoodleyAbout the Author:
Ian Woodley pastors the Nottingham Grace Communion Church, that meets at 2pm Saturday, as below.  Ian also facilitates a monthly Bible Study in Lincoln, which generally meets on a Saturday at 1:30pm.  They welcome visitors to join them—for more details contact Ian Woodley as below.

Local Congregation: 
Nottingham Grace Communion
Lucy Brown Hall
Attenborough Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Ian Woodley
Email:  icgwoodley@gmail.com

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One Response to “19th December 2013”

  1. Pat Kettle on December 23rd, 2013 6:32 pm

    Really enjoyed this article and the prayer.

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