From now until Easter, a daily meditation for your Lenten prayers,
based on the text and music of Handel's Messiah,
written by the community of the American International Church.
And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host,
praising God, and saying:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will towards men.
(Luke 2:13-14)

To me, these ethereal, other worldly and elevating words serve to emphasize the grounding, earthly, and very human nature of Jesus and the messages he brings and represents.

The angel and the multitudes are coming to share this powerful news with a group of sheep herders in some barren field. This messages from a window of the heavens could have been offered to the usual suspects—kings, courts, the wealthy and powerful—but it was not. The messengers chose those next to the ground, poor and isolated, to receive this astounding vision.

To me, I can leave to the side the seemingly supernatural constellation of angels as allegory; it is the choice of the receivers, feet firmly planted in soil, that is critical for me, reminding me this is a message for all humans, here on earth.

This echoes in the triumphant chorus – peace on earth. A phrase we hear and write almost without thinking – or at least I do! This is a reminder to me that the kingdom of God is not about heaven; it is about, and for, earth.  It is not waiting out, tolerating a world structured on domination and subjugation in the hopes of something better in an afterlife. It is here. And now, and for us. All of us.

This loftiest of phrases, gilded by trumpets and angels’ wings, is about how we live together in our complicated, complex, gritty world here and now. Peace on earth, not peace somewhere, later, if you bide your time and wait out the injustices. Peace for all. Now. Here.

Elisabeth Paulson


Today's scripture starts with a brief accompagnato by the soprano, followed by the chorus. You can listen to the soprano here and the full chorus here via Spotify. Watch the excerpt below from La Orquesta y Coro Ad Libitum in Valencia, Spain, beginning at 2:40 (the link will direct you to the right section). 
American International Church
79a Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4TD
0207 580 2791

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