Saturday, December 17, 2011

Remembering the Less Fortunate

In the Old Testament, the poor, and service to the poor is the second most frequently mentioned topic.  Idolatry is first. 

In the New Testament, the results are even more dramatic.  One of every sixteen verses refers to “the poor”.  Among the four Gospels, the ratio is one of every ten.  In the Gospel of Luke, it is one of every seven.  In the epistle of James, it is one of every five…  

I’m sure that by now, you are beginning to see the direction I’m taking.  The Messiah celebrated in the Old Testament book of Isaiah and in Handel’s great oratorio is a God with special preference for the poor.  

And isn't that what we are celebrating?  God With Us - because of our great poverty (spiritual) God came to us in the form of the Christ Child.  The Messiah however, did not remain a child but fulfilled His mission to reconcile us to God.

As Christ’s followers — those who are committed to sharing in the work of the Messiah —we must constantly remind ourselves of that preference.  In our consumeristic world, during such a blessed season when commercial temptations often reach their highest level, such reminders become even more critical.

George Fridric Handel’s work, Messiah is generally reckoned to have been composed in three weeks; with the Hallelujah Chorus having been written in three days. Handel is reputed to have said, “that Heaven opened” while he was composing it.

Messiah remains Handel's best known work, although this was not a status that it enjoyed until the last few years of his life, brought about by annual performances in Handel's oratorio seasons and charitable benefit concerts at the Foundling Hospital, an organization for underprivileged children.

Last Sunday evening we were privileged to see the 75th  performance of the Messiah by our local community college, due to the generosity of our Sunday School teacher and his wife. (Thank you again, Ed & Peggy!)

Persons from the community perform with the college choir and the college orchestra.  Most of the soloist parts are performed by students, but not all.

It was wonderful to behold!

My husband is not specifically drawn to the arts, especially oratorios, operas, classical music and works performed by orchestras!   Bless his heart, he attended nonetheless!  He did believe the performance was finished when the Hallelujah Chorus was complete. 

I diligently and gently tried to explain the Messiah is a performance that covers the Old Testament references from the book of Isaiah, all the way through the birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of the Christ.


My Prayer

Almighty God, remind me how often scripture mentions the poor, and help me to remember that I also should give them priority.  Help me to speak and act on behalf of those whose voices our society often ignores.  ~Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Quotes on Poverty and the Poor
If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one. ~Mother Teresa

Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work. ~Mother Teresa

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. ~Mother Teresa

We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own. ~Cesar Chavez

We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs. ~Gloria Steinem

How will you be responding to those in need this season?  Take the opportunity to read Isaiah 53 ~ this prophetic word always amazes me.

Proverbs 14:31

The Message

31 You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless;
when you're kind to the poor, you honor God.

Proverbs 29:7

The Message

7 The good-hearted understand what it's like to be poor;
the hardhearted haven't the faintest idea.

Tamara