Eliana and I watched two holiday performances this month.
The first was the Nutcracker Ballet, which we attended with her 4th grade class. It was the first time either of us had seen it. One of her classmates danced as an angel and a soldier in the ballet. While everyone did a good job, and some of the dancing was truly amazing, I left with a sort of hollow feeling about the overall storyline. A girl who is rather ill-tempered gets lots of presents on Christmas, falls asleep, and dreams that her toys have come alive. Did I miss something?
The second performance was Handel's Messiah, which we attended last night at a church across town. The 2-1/2 hour free concert included not only a live orchestra flanked by hundreds of choir members, but also a dramatization of Handel's life as he wrote the oratorio. Screens overhead displayed the words straight from Scripture that serve as the lyrics to Handel's masterful compositions. Eliana and I were both mesmerized.
I have always loved Handel's Messiah and listen to it every year, but this was the first time either of us had heard it performed live from start to finish. I had no idea that Handel wrote the oratorio as a commission by the city of Dublin to raise money for the care of orphans and widows. That made the music richer than ever. Another surprise was hearing that Handel himself came to a real faith in Jesus as the Messiah while writing this music. The passion that gripped him them was so evident as we listened. Eliana and I left with hearts full of gratitude for God's gift to us in Jesus, and for such a deeply meaningful evening together.
If you ask me, the Nutcracker doesn't hold a candle to the Messiah!