Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. - Ludwig van Beethoven

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. - Plato

Music is the shorthand of emotion. - Leo Tolstoy

I listened to Handel's Messiah for the first time the summer after I graduated college. Sure, as a kid I made fun of the Hallelujah chorus, just like any other civilized (and slightly cultured) child would do, but I never had heard it in its entirety up until that point. But I have loved it since the moment I first listened to it. The beauty of the individual movements, as well as the piece as a whole, is one that has made itself a permanent home in my heart.

***True confessions: one of the only reasons I bought it was because I had a gift card. And because it was recommended to me by a guy I thought was cute***

Reasons to listen to Messiah:

1) It is more beautiful than any other thing I have heard.
2) Handle wrote it in an astonishing 24 days. Two hundred and fifty nine pages of sheet music in only 24 days.
3) It is a commentary on the person of Jesus--weaving together prophecy of his birth, his actual birth, life, death, and resurrection, and then culminating in His Glorification in Heaven.
4) It is an interactive piece--the audience stands at the beginning of the Hallelujah chorus. This is a tradition started (unbeknown to him) by King George II. There are various rumors of why he stood up during this piece. Some say that he was so inspired by the movement that standing in honor was the only way he could respond. Others say that it is because he may have fallen asleep, and that the drama of the movement literally roused him from his slumber in such a state that he was scared awake! But either way, when the King of England stands up, everyone stands up. Otherwise, heads will roll!
5) There really is no other piece of music that can inspire and comfort me as much as this one. The clear Biblical focus, the way that it always points people towards the Person of Jesus, the way that we are constantly reminded of the high cost of Grace and our deep need for Redemption, it truly is a piece that was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

If you want, you can listen to Messiah in its entirety here (thank you, NPR). I have also found it helpful to read the lyrics. :)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Resolutions, Etc.

Re:solve (verb)
-to deal with successfully; clear up
-to reach a firm decision about

Re:solve (noun)
-fixity of purpose

Let's talk about New Year's resolutions, folks.

Each year millions of Americans make resolutions. I think its an integral part of our nature as humans to change and to grow. It is something that we want. We want to be better people, we want to grow, we will always want what is better. Perhaps this is just a way for people to do it. When New Year's comes around, the mob mentality kicks in. Imagine if every human on the planet resolves to do some self-betterment starting January 1st. How's that for social pressure?

New year's resolutions are not a new tradition, I recently found out. In fact, according to one of the first sites that popped up on my Google search told me that it has been going on as since the times of the Romans. January is named after the god Janus, who reportedly is the patron and protector of beginnings and endings (among other things like bridges, arches, and doors....arches...really?). These Roman resolutions generally made with a moral code: to be good to one another.

When the Puritans were around in New England, they put a little different of a spin on it--those who made resolutions made them in order to better their talents or to stay away from their sins of choice (or habit, whatever you want to call it). Not too far off of our current day resolutions! Flossing, learning how to read music, getting off our butts and hitting the gym, etc. All good things, right?

My dad has the same resolution every year--to not make a resolution. Witty. I worked with a gal in high school who took an attribute of God and focused on that for the year (patience, generosity, forgiving, just, etc.). I liked that a lot, and actually did it for a few years myself. One of my roommates has made about 1,000,006 resolutions for this year--to walk the dog every day for 15 minutes, to eat less sweets, so on and so forth. These are all good things!

On January 1st I sat next to a woman in church who, the past few years, has gone through some severe health issues that have affected her in ways that I'm sure that many of us could only imagine. And yet she is present each week with a grin on her face and joy in her heart. She truly is a gem. Anyway, we were small talking about how late each of us had stayed up the night before. I shamelessly admit that a retired woman in her mid sixties beat me in this competition by an hour and a half. I causally asked her if she had made any resolutions (it sounded like a safe enough question at the time. Boy was I wrong!). Her answer floored me.

She turned to look at me full in the face. "Honey," she said, "ever since I got sick, I realized that every day is a resolution. Every day I get to choose to follow the Lord. Life is a resolution."


Life is a resolution.

That shakes me. Every day I have the opportunity to resolve to follow after Jesus. I am sure that, in one way or another, I [consciously or subconsciously] make that choice; but the way that she put it--a resolution every day--shifts the paradigm. Resolving, every day, to put one foot in front of the other, following the path to the cross.

And yet, is that not the life of someone who follows Jesus?

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.
John 1:29-34