December 5, 2009

A "Never-Was" User's Guide to Enjoying the Symphony

Note that this is no ordinary Symphony performance. This is a professional performance of Handel's Messiah by the Atlanta Symphony. The musicians are of highest quality: the chamber orchestra, chorus, conductor and soloists. And you are attending said performance wearing a splint for carpal tunnel.

First, you must be a believer, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. This is very important and the second is likely important: as a woman, you must abandon feminist ideals in every form and turn toward God's Biblical Womanhood as your primary vocation and (** very important**) be content with that! Avoid every thought of bitterness. After these first initial and critical steps, the others remain fairly easy.

Read the program notes and reflect on the Word of God as it is sung, translating if necessary, so that you hear and see which words are emphasized by the duration and ornamentation of the syllable. Messiah is a musical meditation of sorts. Therefore, meditate and worship God-Christ as a human baby-come to fulfill all these prophecies sung so beautifully. Reflect on other texts of Scripture that it calls to memory. Reflect on the attributes of God, His gracious works done for you and the judgement He removed from your head speaking, "Peace," and, "'Comfort ye' saith your God".

"Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts: "And once in a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land, all nations."

"But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? Who shall stand?"

"For He is like a refiner's fire."

"And He shall purify. And He shall purify - the sons of Levi that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness, in righteousness."

Be humbled that as He purifies us, He does so that we might offer unto Him righteous worship. Accept the minor pains of this life understanding that we so easily abandoned our perfect creation in Adam and now must tread through the various rocky and dry terrains of sanctification, lead by our Great Shepherd in order to achieve our original created purpose: to worship God in holy righteousness.

"And He shall lead His flock, like a Shepherd."

Do not be afraid to smile. Don't concern yourself with what others think of your eye-dabbing and head-bobbing. Do not focus on the pomp of the orchestra or the dignity with which the musicians conduct themselves on stage remembering your previous days in which you did the same. Don't consider the years of training, grueling auditions, the high price and quality of their instruments (which you cannot afford) or the grandeur of the decorated music hall (in which you will never play). Listen to the music as a whole work, not just one part (soprano, bass, 2nd violin, etc.).

"For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given. Unto us a Child is born. And the government shall be, shall be upon His shoulders. And His Name shall be called:

Keep your focus on Christ, the Man who's birth we celebrate not just this season but all year long. Remember that they, just like preachers in our churches, are merely conduits for the message of God's Word. These people are all sinners but God's Word is infallible and inerrant. Let all your attention focus on the text and the music. Allow your emotions to soar in reverence for God and Christ and avoid becoming enamored with or envious of the musicians, more than likely most are not believing worship leaders, just musicians skilled at a particular instrument.

After reflecting on God's gifts of Himself, His Word, prophecy, promise, and hope - how He promised to remove the righteous judgement that loomed over our heads and instead placing it on the Holy Head of His Son that He might comfort us, an afflicted people dead in our sin and enemies of God doomed for the eternal fires of Hell, speaking peace to us. He will accomplish all that concerns His Bride! And all of this for His glory!

"Glory to God! Glory to God in the Highest!
And peace on earth, goodwill to men with whom His favor rests."

And when it's time
for the Hallelujah! Chorus,

Not because you're tired of sitting. Not because it is a tradition. Not because everyone else is standing. But because after all of the wonderful benefits of being a blood bought, born-again believer in Christ, saved from an all-too-certain death and fierce unending wrath of God that we can never bear but remains constantly and increasingly more and more painful than we could ever imagine, we cannot help but to stand and worship God out of reverence and gratitude! We cannot help to sing, without regard for others around us, "Halleljah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halle- lujah!" Praise the Lord! Do not be afraid to lift up your holy hands! (Wearing a splint or not.)

And do you clap? Yes! Clap! Clap in gratitude for these musicians and the time it took them to prepare for this performance that you so thoroughly enjoyed! Don't clap too much and take your focus off of Christ. When the conductor comes out with the soloists for the third time, they're just "milking it." :-)

Thank you Honey for a wonderful night! I thoroughly, truly enjoyed every minute!

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