The Messiah

Published December 2, 2021 by Betty McGary

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

The year 1979 was the worst year of my life. My nineteen-year marriage had ended, my dreams had died. Everything that had been "nailed down" for me had "come loose." It seemed there were "ashes for breakfast" every morning.

By early November, I could see only darkness around me. There were problems with no solutions, questions with no answers. In desperation, I finally reached for the telephone. When my friend answered, I said, "Eleanor, I'm drowning. I need to do something, but I can't think of anywhere to go or anything to do. Can you help me?" She responded, "You know, it's almost Christmas. The choir is rehearsing The Messiah. Why don't you come to family night dinner on Wednesday and stay for choir rehearsal?"

Somehow, I made it to Crescent Hill Baptist Church that Wednesday night. I can hardly hold back the tears as I visited with friends around the table. After dinner, I found my way to the choir room. I hoped no one would notice I was there. I knew I couldn't sing a note, but I was determined to stay. It was incredible to me that other people were talking and singing.

I stayed. I listened. The familiar words began to touch my brokenness. "Comfort ye my people...saith your God.... Every valley shall be exalted.... The crooked straight, and the rough places plain.... the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.... The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.... For unto us a child is born...and His Name shall be called Wonderful.... Rejoice O daughter of Zion.... He shall speak peace. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd."

Christmas past had been filled with shopping, entertaining, decorating, baking, activities with the children, and Advent services. But for Christmas 1979, I focused on one goal. I would sing in The Messiah with the Crescent Hill choir.

On the night of the performance, my children and my parents were sitting on the second row. My friends, Eleanor and Grady, were encouraging me with eye contact. The audience joined in the singing "Hallelujah! ...the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." We sang through our tears. "I know that my Redeemer liveth" was becoming my song again.

The year 1979 was the worst year of my life, but Christmas 1979 was my most meaningful Christmas. I have never known darkness before. In the darkness, I encountered the Marvelous Light that is Christmas. God's Word came to live with me and brought me through.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory. (John 1:14)