Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thoughts on Handel's Messiah, Pronouns and Grace

Yesterday I was listening to a unique version of Handel's Messiah.  "For Unto Us a Child is Born" is my favourite song on this album.  The voices switch between English and Swahili while the music changes from European classical to African traditional.... it is a beautiful counterpoint of culture and language, yet surprisingly the coherent "glue" that holds it together is found in a two-letter objective, plural pronoun:  us.

Unto us a child is born. 

I sometimes wonder if we Westerners think we have a monopoly on Christianity or the Incarnation of Christ.  Unto [everyone in the Baptist denomination] a child is born...  For God so loved [white middle-class Americans]...  For it is by grace [conservative church-going, law-abiding citizens] have been saved through faith...

Unto us a child is born. Who is "us"? 

The English language does not have a delineation between "us" as in "you and I" to "us" as in "a select group of people" to "us" as in "everyone".  There is only "us".  So "us" is the homeless woman on the streets of San Francisco with matted hair who smells like urine.  "Us" is the man on death row who raped and brutally murdered a young high school student.  "Us" is my neighbour who jumps nude on his trampoline while shooting a pellet gun over the wall.  "Us" is the religious fanatic who leaves a wake of destruction in order to promote his agenda.  "Us" is everyone who speaks Swahili.  "Us" is even you and I.

Kwa sisi mtoto amezaliwa.  If I don't honour the all-encompassing nature of "us", I will miss the blessing of the wild and unfathomable Grace that was gifted in the form of a child and will one day culminate in the craziest family reunion ever...

1 comment:

wakeupcowboys said...

I'm nodding my head emphatically up and down and yet not able to truly comprehend about crazy reunion...that's for sure.