Y'all know I have mad love for Handel's Messiah.
And, as usual, the news is just killing me.
So yesterday I was listening through the first hour or so of Messiah, because I hadn't done it yet since Advent started.
(Yeah, I'm behind on my own Advent devotional. True story. So everybody else who downloaded Comfort Ye My People with good intentions and hasn't started it yet can feel better now. We're all just letting go of perfectionism, and it's good.)
Here's the text that got me this time around.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the might God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
This is such a joyous piece of music, like kids chasing each other around a playground.
Little short, skippy, happy beats, and then a big swooping lean into the word "us."
It used to seem to me that there was a bit of a competition going on between the various parts of the choir. The sopranos say, "For unto US," and then the tenors say, "Unto US," and then the altos say, "Unto US."
But I think this text is supposed to be an invitation, rather than a competition.
See, we won't have the right English word for "us."
We don't know if "us" means "just us and not you" or "all of us."
Except that we DO know: God loved the whole world so much, and He sent His Son.
So we know what this text means. It means FOR ALL OF US.
When I wrote about this piece in Comfort Ye My People, I'm not sure what exactly was going on politically and socially that day. But it seems like it must have been a lot like what's going on politically and socially today. Because I wrote something then that I could have written just this morning:
This text is about our collective blessing.
Unto us a child is born. Unto us a Son is given.
And the government is not just for me. It's for everybody.
This text is about all of us together.
I think it's hard at this political moment in America to imagine a government that is for all of us--and not just for us vs. them.
But, oh, I tell you, I long for a day when the government is not just good for me.
But for all of us.
When the government is wonderful for the poor and the rich. For the sick and the well. For the suffering and the celebrating. For those who agree with me, and for those who disagree with me. Because all of us together are God's beloved.
Everlasting Father, shine your light on all of us.
And make us your light and your love to all of your beloved, even and especially to those we are different from us today.
Prince of Peace.
For all of us.