According to the account in the New York Times, it was just before Christmas several years ago that David Storch, a music teacher, borrowed a copy of the score of Handel’s “Messiah” from the Brooklyn Public Library. Through a clerical error, however, the transaction was not recorded. There were several other requests for the score, and the library staff, unaware that it had been checked out, spent many hours searching in vain for it through the stacks.
On the day that Storch returned it, placing it on the circulation desk, he was astonished to hear the librarian spontaneously, joyously, and loudly shout, “The ‘Messiah’ is here! The ‘Messiah’ is back!” Every head in the library turned toward the voice, but, as the Times reported, “A few minutes later everyone went back to work.”
A parable of the often dashed expectations of those who wait for God. Someone cries, “Peace, peace,” but there is no peace. Another says, “Comfort, comfort,” but there is little comfort. “Come, thou long-expected Jesus,” goes the prayerful hymn, and heads turn in a moment of curious interest, then, seeing nothing, go back to work. And so, weary of waiting on a God who does not come, we lower our horizons, fold our hands in prayer to more tangible gods to give us purpose, and turn to more immediate and reliable resources for hope.
We hide in our sanctuaries where we can celebrate “possibility thinking” and the other human potentials, which we hope will save us from our self-doubt, if not our sins. We fill the silos and the skies with ever more potent weapons of destruction, which we hope will save us from each other. And we summon the elixirs of modern medicine to save us from disease, aging, and finally from death. We educate ourselves to the ills and evils of a fallen human nature hoping that people will act differently as we feed our indulgences. In short, tired of waiting for the one true God, we create our own, molded in our own image.¹
The good news is: “A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Do we dare trust God to act on our behalf?
Prayer for the Day
O God, let the light of your Son shine upon me. With the light of His transforming love and presence permeate my head and my heart and give shape and direction to my reasoning and to my emotions with your grace, your mercy, and your truth. Do not let me be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of my mind. Renew my thinking so I might have the mind of Christ. Create a pure heart in me and put a new and right spirit within me so that I may recognize you in every situation and circumstance, every relationship and acquaintance of the day…for blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see you. May there there be a renewed hope in my life, my family, my work, my community because of your light in my life in and through Jesus. Amen.
- Adapted from Tom Long