One of the latest phenomenons is a viral YouTube on a food court flash mob performing the Hallelujah Chorus. Ken Meyer is his weblog LeaderFOCUS  gives us a little background on the “original.”

Monday, December 13, 2010

The tradition is now more than a quarter of a millennium old. Today, the YouTube videos go viral as the music rings out in shopping malls across America and the familiar strains Handel’s Messiah breaks unexpectedly into the noisy food court; surprised patrons stand to their feet and cast off inhibition and join in the exuberant singing. Pocket cameras appear capturing a serendipitous holiday moment that will be the topic of conversation for the whole season.

George Frederick Handel drew from the King James English Bible in 1741. He wrote the masterpiece in less than a month (twenty four days, to be precise). The oratorio, taken as a whole, is a summary of the entire Bible, from Creation and the first Prophecies of Salvation through an Anointed One, to Messiah’s appearance and Eternal Reign. That this frontal declaration of biblical monotheism would resonate so clearly and broadly and universally in our increasingly secular age speaks volumes about the spiritual appetite of the masses.

Maybe one of the greatest gifts of the Chicago years, those formative days in my development when singing occupied a considerable portion of my routine each week, my professors and mentors put me in long rehearsals, handing me a thick, dog-eared paperback book, well worn, containing the entire text of Handel’s complete Messiah. Night after night, we would work through the sections. Our world was divided into four equal groups: sopranos, altos, tenors and baritone/bass. We learned pitch and harmony, tempo, crescendo, decrescendo and fortissimo. Some of the passages would be tedious, repetitive and complicated. Others would take us to the heights, ascending well above our post-adolescent imaginations. A piano would bang out the parts until we mastered them, and then the four sections of the room would come together in harmony.

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Lynn Hybels reflects on her many experiences with Christmas. She writes …

Here’s the main difference between me at 29 and me at 59: I used to think that everything mattered. Now I realize that very little matters.

I used to think that festive yet elegant Christmas decorations mattered. I used to think that hosting big parties mattered. I used to think that buying gifts for everyone who might possibly expect a gift mattered. I used to think that sending Christmas cards mattered. And that beautiful wrapping paper mattered. And that sophisticated holiday menus mattered.

But no more.

This year I’ve hit an all-time Christmas-decorating low. Last night Henry and I dug through boxes in the basement and found what we were looking for: two small nativity scenes, both handcrafted in African villages, and one olive wood carving of Mary and Jesus, made by Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem. We also selected a Waterford angel given to me years ago by a kind church member and a Saint Nicholas figurine from my sister-in-law. I have an aesthetic bias against Santa Claus decorations, but I love this old-fashioned Saint Nick. I may also get a $4 mini evergreen for Henry to decorate. Maybe not.

Part of the decorating pressure of previous years was driven by The Party. For years, on December 23, Bill and I hosted a party for a random (and large) assortment of friends, many coming in from out-of-state to attend a Christmas service at our church. After the service a parade of cars would inch through the snowy neighborhood to our driveway. The house would be shimmering, the table heavily-laden, and the standing-room-only crowd in a festive mood. It was a lot of work, but it always seemed worth it — until recently. The past few years, as schedules have become more frantic, we have felt that we might serve our friends better by giving them a December night off rather than another party to attend. Nobody complained when we decided not to host the event this year. Read the rest at her * meneutics

Then this post (in its entirety) from Nick Stephens.

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas . . .”

by nick francis stephens

The sounds of the season are upon us, sounds that generate all sorts of conjecture and diverse response. For some of us they are fond memories of a childhood past, reminiscent of family, presents, cookies, and Christmas carols.

Yet for others the scenario is quite different. It’s yet another reminder of our loneliness and unrelenting abandonment issues. A season of hope reveals itself to be nothing more than a season of despair. The little hope we have dissipates and contributes to the further deafening of our spirit and the continued paralysis of our souls.

I cannot say I’m a huge fan of holidays but I can say this, I’m a huge fan of humanity. There is just something about the image of God present in the human story. It’s fuel for my passions!

Humanity’s relationship with God may appear as a one-sided conversation, but to me, it is more akin to a dance between lovers: the creativity, the laughter, the lights, the music; it’s all the handiwork of God on display through God’s most splendid grandeur . . . people!

I am captured by a sense of delight every time I hear the voice of Bing Crosby and the multiple renditions of his popular Christmas carol. Although we struggle through the hustle and bustle of the season, I’m certain we are moved by the genteelness and romance emanating from the words. . . “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”.

For some of us, I wonder if those words instill a sense of hope that this year things will be different, and for others perhaps it’s simply the anticipation of the season. Whatever the response is nonetheless, the lyrics bring a stirring to our hearts worthy of overcoming the greatest of holiday humbugs.

My soul cannot help but wonder with the passing of another season, what really are the dreams that we hold onto, or perhaps better yet, what are the dreams that hold on to us?

When I meet people, I often inquire about their dreams (it’s a great way to start a conversation). I have come to realize through these interactions that so often our dreams are really all about us! Instead of having dreams that bring us to life, they bring us discouragement and hopelessness submerged in doubt.

Think about it? What are your dreams?

My tendency is to have dreams that are all about me! Accomplishing things by me for me! We all have dreams of belonging, becoming, and believing, but if we were to be honest with ourselves, how many of us leave God out of those dreams? Typically, we aspire on a daily basis to make our dreams a reality through egotistical ways, which to no avail only leads us on a cyclical journey of wasted effort, the hardening of our hearts and the loss of the dreams God has designed for our lives.

Given our human nature, it doesn’t surprise me that we inherently focus on ourselves, but it certainly seems odd to me that we would choose a special day like Christmas to intentionally do so . . . Oh yea, that isn’t actually the reason for the season, perhaps our western ways of living have duped us while we were sleeping.

Like the dancing disillusion of holiday deception, is it possible that we have been deceived by our dreams as well? What if our dreams stopped being about us and actually began to focus on others? What if God created us to have dreams that inspired us to serve humanity? What would the world look like if all of us embraced dreams that moved us to live at our fullest capacity, celebrating the human spirit by serving humanity!

Jesus once said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men”. Jesus’ invitation wasn’t about safety or getting to go to heaven, but instead it was so much more! It was about living an abundant life now! It was about empowering us to engage life at its fullest and help others to do the same!

Jesus wasn’t saying come, follow me and I’ll show you what you can have, he was saying come, follow me and I’ll show you what you have to give. Jesus’ intention was never to move us towards self- gratification, consumerism and isolation! Rather, just the opposite takes place; lives are transformed, marriages are healed, addictions are demolished, isolation becomes a thing of the past and intimacy becomes our present reality.

I am convinced that God’s dreams for you and me is to give our lives away and to use our lives to inspire the world to live by faith, to be known by love and to be a voice of hope to the world. Simply stated, when we live the dreams of God, our lives will find that which we long for the most: intimacy, purpose and meaning!


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