A very dear friend forwarded this video yesterday. If you’re not among the 3 million who have seen it, you’re missing a lot.
I was moved to tears throughout the hymn. At Macy’s department store (can you think of a more secular place?) God was praised as in a magnificent cathedral. And how! In the flurry of Christmas shopping, over 650 angelic voices burst forth in praise of the King of kings, the Lord of lords. “And he shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.”
It is one of the Knight Foundation’s “Random Act of Culture.” It was surprising. Unexpected, yes. But random? The choir had to practice, the pipe organ had to be transported and Macy’s had to agree to it all. No, this was a well-orchestrated event with a definitive goal of bringing people together through a collective experience.
An act of culture, it certainly was. I suppose that is the politically correct term. But it was more than that. Had it been an excerpt from an opera, yes. But this was Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and staged toward the season of Advent.
It was nothing less than an act of faith, of hope and of love. You might say this is just my bias. But it gave me such joy. I saw it as a declaration of faith in Jesus who is King of all. It is an act of hope in the human spirit which has been made for God. Hope that no matter how bleak the economic situation is, “the kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”
No matter what governments or politicians do to deny or eradicate him from the social sphere in the guise of not offending peoples of other faith, Jesus bursts forth into our lives in the most unexpected and unconventional ways surprising us with his presence. The same way he did 2000 years ago.
When a single person does something good he/she opens the door to greatness. When that person unites with others for a collective good, miracles happen. God who is present in each person takes our tiny contribution and multiplies it to create something new and beautiful.
Pope Benedict XVI when he consecrated the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona said:
“Beauty is one of mankind’s greatest needs; it is the root from which the branches of our peace and the fruits of our hope come forth. Beauty also reveals God because, like him, a work of beauty is pure gratuity; it calls us to freedom and draws us away from selfishness.”
This video does just that. The choristers may not have considered the impact their performance would make. They just did what they do extraordinarily well. In so doing they transformed Macy’s into an oasis of peace and joy and beauty. A dwelling place for God.
Let us ask Mary, the Immaculate Conception, for the grace to be open to the surprises of God this Advent so that he can make us his home at Christmas.