Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably toJerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. (Isaiah 40:1-3)
Air for Tenor
Ev'ry valley shall be exalted, and ev'ry mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain. (Isaiah 40:4)
My father was a tenor. I was a tenor. This music was one of the reasons why tenors put up with their high voices. Listening to my father sing this was a singular joy. My mom was a soprano, and Handel made sure that she had some beautiful solos as well.
Most people associate The Messiah with Christmas and the Hallelujah Chorus. If you have a chance, listen to the complete work.
For most, religion is an activity. I doubt that many have read the Bible. Sure, passages. But read the Bible, to understand the Bible. And I'm not aware of any religion that requires one to prove that a member has actually read the entire work. Which is too bad. In the Bible lies most of our Western literary tradition.
One of the strongest, most meaningful passages in the Bible is John 3:16. You see the sign at sports events. You may even have said "3:16" at some point in your life. But have you ever asked why 3:16 is such a powerful statement?
You have to look to Genesis and the story of Abraham. It's in Chapter 22:
"Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.'"
Without knowing the story of Abraham, the offering of John 3:16 isn't fully in context. The sacrifice that God was unwilling to demand of Abraham, He willingly gave to us. If you're unfamiliar with the word "covenant" you may not appreciate fully what is explicit and what is implicit in John 3:16. Do you remember the covenant God gave us in Genesis 9?
"...and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creatue of all flesh that is upon the earth."
It is God's covenant to man that is stated explicitely in John 3:16:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
What God did not compel Abraham to do He required of His Son. This is the Covenant of God this Easter weekend. You can take comfort. It was freely given.