In a glorious performance of Handel’s Messiah, we celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth, sacrifice, and resurrection. Some of the finest musicians from the valley, Eagle River and Anchorage have been rehearsing for months to bring you this memorable Christmas event. Free performances will be Sunday, December 8th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
As I have performed Hendel’s Messiah over the years, I have found powerful phrases weaving themselves into my own life experiences. In times of sorrow and joy, my witness of the goodness of Jesus Christ has grown.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).
When I was expecting our third child, we were renting an apartment, hoping to buy a home. Over our eleven years of marriage, my husband and I had probably lived in fifteen different apartments. We had moved often in our pursuit of college educations and had lived in various cities across the country. By this time, I was longing for a permanent home for our growing family.
As I drove in my car that fall, I would hum along to a song that felt like my creed: “homeless, homeless, like the Christ child was,” from the album “The Forgotten Carols” by Michael McLean.
I found comfort in the poignant recollection that Jesus, the greatest of all, also moved from home to home as a child. During his ministry, he said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). As it turns out, owning a home is not a requirement for happiness, holiness, or greatness. Jesus taught me that.
“Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).
Five years later, I found myself unable to get out of bed one dark, early morning in February. I had recently miscarried our fourth child and was unaware of the developing infection that would require hospitalization later that day. I only knew I couldn’t move, I couldn’t take care of my other children, I couldn’t get to the phone to call my husband, and I felt sad.
In that dark moment, I prayed. I immediately felt the love and comfort of Jesus. Somehow, he knew how a mother feels. My concern was important to him—after all, aren’t my children also his? In addition to comforting me, Jesus also sent me help. Not long after my prayer, a dear friend dropped by to check on me. Somehow she knew I needed a hand. She got my kids to school and took me to the hospital.
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
As the Son of the Eternal God and the mortal mother Mary, Jesus is uniquely situated to sustain us. His comfort stems from his own experience with sin, weakness, and grief; his power to rescue flows from his triumph over sin and death.
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
In the final moments of Jesus’ life, he experienced the complete withdrawal of his Father from him, when he cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46). Jesus willingly offered himself as the sacrificial lamb. He willingly paid the infinite price to overcome all of the sin, suffering, sadness, and death the world contains. And how gladly he receives us when we come to him.
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55)
When my father died several years ago, I felt such great peace it seemed I could press into it like soft butter. I knew my peace came from Jesus. I also found joy in Jesus’ promises of resurrection and life eternal. That year as we rehearsed, I rejoiced in the promise that we will be “raised incorruptible” and that death has forever lost its sting.
“Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth” (Rev 19:6) Please join us as we celebrate the gifts of Jesus Christ. May you find peace and hope this Christmas season and throughout the new year.
Beth Wright has played violin as part of the Mat-Su Messiah orchestra since 2003. She lives in Wasilla with her husband and finds great joy in being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.