A friend posted a video this evening on Facebook. It is a YouTube video of the Opera Company of Philadelphia, along with over 650 other singers from 28 participating organizations, descended on a Macy’s store in Center City Philadelphia. Their purpose was to surprise the unsuspecting shoppers with a Random Act of Culture. The event took place just a few days ago, on October 30, 2010.
Scattered throughout the unwitting crowd were randomly placed individuals who, when given their cue, burst into a full rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah. As I watched and listened to this mass choir sing one of the greatest and most inspired choral pieces of all time, something began to emerge in my spirit – a realization of what I was witnessing as being a picture of what the Church is to be in world.
This was a secular group on a secular mission, but what transpired was a public declaration of who Jesus is and His ultimate dominion over the kingdoms of this world – His eternal reign as King of Kings.
Here is what I saw:
1. Hundreds of individuals from dozens of organzations coming together for a common purpose.
2. A multi-generational, multi-cultural ensemble of voices singing the praises of our Eternal King.
3. These individuals are not all dressed alike and standing together as a group, thus separating themselves from those they are singing for. They are dressed like everyone else, scattered throughout the crowd. Until they started singing, they appeared to be just shoppers.
4. Each individual sings his/her part from wherever they are standing, with faces upturned and eyes fixed on the conductor, who is standing on an upper level.
5. When the shoppers realize what is happening, they stop what they are doing and engage in the process. They smile. They laugh. They break out cameras and video cameras and phones to capture the moment. They sing along. They sway to the music. You will even see one woman with a camera in hand and the other hand lifted in worship as she was unable to stand still.
How profound a challenge this is to the Body of Christ – to unite under one banner and take the message of Jesus to the public forum in a bold and beautiful display of a multi-generational, multi-cultured declaration of who Jesus is! I promise you – when the Church begins to take this kind of a unified approach to getting the message of Jesus into the marketplace, the schools, the businesses and other public arenas, the world WILL SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE!
George Frideric Handel was a child prodigy who began composing operas at a very young age. By the time he was in his twenties, he was the best paid composer in the world. Over time, however, as his music came to be regarded as old-fashioned, and he was unable to sell anything. He endured bankruptcy, depression, a stroke and a palsy that crippled his fingers.
In August 1741, Handel began to compose the music for a libretto given to him by a friend, a collection of works about the life of Christ. Inspired by the words, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people” from Isaiah 40, Handel had agreed to the project. Less than a month later, the entire work of The Messiah was complete.
The lyrics to the Hallelujah Chorus are few, but their message is profound:
(Be sure to pause the music player on the left side of this page before starting the video.)