Special "Messiah" Broadcast at Christmas

EVANGELISM: Special "Messiah" Broadcast at Christmas

A Christmas radio program

Pastor-Evangelist, potomac Conferenc

[EDITORIAL NOTE.—O. L. Jacques has had some intensely interesting experiences with his local radio station, and we have asked him to prepare this report for THE MINISTRY. We believe many of our local broadcasters could repeat this experience in their fields of labor. Some of our pastors and evangelists who are not now on the air might try this idea as well. Why not consider the plan carefully and prayerfully, and then visit the manager of your local radio station as soon as possible, suggesting that you would like to cooperate in presenting The Messiah on the station during the coming Christmas season? Elder Jacques' script appearing at the end of his article may prove helpful. We recommend the plan to you.—R. A. A.]

The chief responsibility of the church and, more specifically, of the pastor-evangelist is to transmit to the world an understanding of the beauty and power of divine love. No opportunity should be overlooked, no means toward accomplishing this end should be neglected, for only as men and women experience a deep, spiritual consciousness of the Father's love will they be drawn into His kingdom.

It is not enough to be aware of the historical Christ, who was sacrificed by Roman soldiers on Golgotha's hill. The love of God in sending His only-begotten Son to be rejected, tortured, and murdered by those He was to save must be understood and felt. The significance of Christ's first advent, His sinless life and selfless minis try, His heartbreaking death on the cross, His resurrection from the tomb, His glorious reward for those who accept Him—must all be seen and accepted if the power of sin over lost men is to be broken, A merely logical or argumenta tive presentation of the facts concerning life eternal is not adequate. Even a comprehensive or exhaustive knowledge of the atonement in all its wonderful aspects will not suffice.

To win a soul, the gospel worker must dis cover some avenue to the sinner's very heart. He must penetrate the seat or basis of spiritual and emotional life and turn the lost soul into the current of divine love. Very simple things sometimes help to accomplish this vital part in saving men: a beautiful passage of Scripture, a moving hymn, a deeply spiritual poem, some delicate miracle of nature, the simple earnest ness of a speaker, or perhaps the consistent life of some faithful Christian. But the real and final agency in producing the change of heart so vital to genuine conversion is the matchless love of God demonstrated in the death of His Son on Calvary's cross. No method of portraying that supreme act of divine love should be dis missed without careful consideration. No favor able condition or tendency on the part of un saved men should be ignored.

It is during the Christmas season, perhaps, that the minds of worldly people are nearest to God. It is then that the Babe of Bethlehem is most apt to find His way into the cold, calloused heart of modern man. What are we doing to take advantage of this softening point in the iron curtain of indifference and self-complacency? Can the kind of Christmas that is observed by the world today be used in any way to win souls, or is it only an orgy of myth and pageantry and an excuse for commercialism and indulgence?

It would seem that the best way to utilize Christmas is not to explode it all as a pagan myth, but rather to combat error, excess, and commercialism by a clear, forceful presentation of the love of God as manifested in the incarnation, ministry, death, and soon return of Jesus, God's only Son. Doors to hearts opening at Christmastime must not be slammed shut. They must be opened fully to the power of a heavenly Father's love. Error is most readily overcome, not by railing on its fallacy, but by presenting truth in all its beauty and strength. 

Can Adventists do anything during the Christmas holidays that will register above the din and confusion of trade and tradition? Cannot something be done that will both be heard and be capable of entering the soul and awakening spiritual life? Cannot some agency be found that will open minds and hearts to God's love without arousing prejudice or fear?

Station Manager Approached

An unusually effective means presented itself to the writer during the last Christmas season— namely, a specially recorded broadcast of Handel's Messiah with explanatory commentary.

The Messiah is actually an Adventist production in that it vividly portrays not only the first advent of Christ but also His glorious return. Unfortunately, many of the portions so peculiarly Adventist doctrinally are unknown to Adventists. I had long felt that the doctrinal back ground of the oratorio should be exploited by those who believe in Christ's soon coming.

Several months before Christmas last year I asked Ken Gordon, the station manager of the radio station from which I broadcast weekly, whether or not his station was going to present The Messiah locally. He replied that the station had not planned to but that it seemed a good idea. I stated that I would like to see it done as a service to the public and in an effort to counteract the intense commercialism connected with Christmas. I further suggested that I had in my possession a recording of The Messiah (Columbia L.P., Huddersfield Choral Society), which I would gladly lend to the station. Mr. Gordon seemed pleased and asked me whether I would present the oratorio over the air, for none of his staff really understood that kind of music. I accepted his invitation and promised to time and program the production so that he would know how much time to give for the broadcast.

About ten days before Christmas we met to decide upon the day and hour for the presentation. The station manager was anxious that we choose the best time of the entire Christmas week end. We concluded that we would have the largest listening audience on the Sunday afternoon before Christmas. The broadcast was to run from 3:00 to 5:45 P.M. Mr. Gordon agreed to advertise The Messiah during the week, and did so, mentioning our church as the cosponsor. I wrote a two-column story about the oratorio and the special broadcast, which was published in both the daily and the weekly papers.

Results

In preparing the script for presentation I endeavored not only to cause the listeners to understand the text but also to help them grasp the love of God and the great plan that inspired the incredible sacrifice of God's only Son.

As the broadcast began, the station manager seemed somewhat unenthusiastic. He said it was rather "heavy stuff" for Virginians. While he was talking thus the telephone rang, and the Baptist minister expressed both to Mr. Gordon and to me his enthusiastic approval. The telephone continued to ring as appreciative people called in. The manager said it was most un usual for people to make voluntary calls of approval. He decided to drive downtown and dis cover whether people were really listening in. Everywhere people were tuned in to the broad cast. It was on in restaurants, bus stations, and drugstores. He stopped at the homes of several friends and heard it nearly everywhere he went. One woman was listening to it on all three of her radios.

Mr. Gordon rushed back to the studio and called for a photographer. He seemed deeply impressed with the grandeur of the music and its meaning, and declared that this broadcast was the biggest thing ever to have been put on by the station. He said he believed the presentation had a larger audience than any other program ever transmitted by the station. Atmospheric conditions were ideal.

The photographer came and grouped us around a Christmas tree, as shown in the ac companying picture. This picture appeared with a further write-up in the local papers, and a framed copy of the photograph now hangs in the manager's office.

As the broadcast ended, Mr. Gordon's mother-in-law-to-be called to ask whether I could stop at her home, because she wanted to meet me. The manager took me to her home and introduced me. She is a rather distinguished- type Episcopalian woman. Mr. Gordon's fiancee also joined us, and both women expressed enthusiastic appreciation for the broadcast. They had never realized that it contained such "wonderful music," and they both confessed that they had never before understood the text of the oratorio. The older woman remarked that Adventists must be sound and spiritual people to sponsor and understand such great music. They kept me for more than two hours asking questions about the teachings and work of Seventh-day Adventists. During the evening several other fine couples stopped in and joined in the very profitable conversation.

Everywhere in the weeks that followed I en countered people who expressed appreciation for the broadcast. Mr. Gordon received so many expressions of approval that he asked me to present The Messiah again during the Easter holiday. This second broadcast was, if anything, more successful than the first. The station gave three full hours, this time allowing for more continuity and an interlude at the close during which I presented Handel's Concerto Grosso (Regent L.P. 10-inch recording) to keep the mood unbroken.

One direct result of the second broadcast was the experience that came to us when we applied to the local chamber of commerce for authorization to solicit business portions of the city for Ingathering. The chamber had heretofore been hostile to our work and had stopped the In gathering work the year before. It so happened that the secretary of the organization had listened to and greatly enjoyed the spring broad cast. He proved very friendly, and quickly se cured from the committee a favorable decision authorizing us to carry on the campaign. Mr. Gordon gave a good contribution and several weeks of free Ingathering advertising over the radio. He also advertises my weekly broadcast free of charge. He has now asked me to present the oratorio Elijah at Thanksgiving time.

The Christmas broadcast of The Messiah was one of the happiest things ever to come to me in my broadcasting experience. It created good will and paved the way for other similar presentations. Throughout the area Adventists are gaining a unique place as promoters of the best in sacred music. Let us hope that many souls have been stirred by the message of The Messiah, and that hearts have been opened to the good news of our Saviour's soon return. May God give us understanding and vision in reaching sin-hardened souls, and may He give us grace to seek out the lost wherever they may be and give them hope and longing for the kingdom of God.

Script for Broadcast of "The Messiah"

3:00 ANNOUNCER: As a service to the community this Christmas season, the management and staff of this station in cooperation with the Seventh-day Adventist church of Strasburg takes pleasure in presenting at this time a complete recorded concert performance of Handel's Messiah. Pastor O. L. Jacques, of the Adventist church, will introduce the production. Pastor Jacques.

3:00&1/2 JACQUES: The most significant event of all time was the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in a manger in Bethlehem. The birth of the Baby Jesus in a Judean barn, though unnoticed by the world, marked the first great step in a desperate plan to win back the love and obedience of a race of men and women who had rebelled against God and turned their backs on their Creator. The story of Jesus is a story of matchless love. God so loved the world that He gave His only-begot ten Son. At Christmastime, Christians the world over pause to commemorate the birth of the Messiah, and the love of God embodied in the helpless Babe of Bethlehem finds new entrance into the hearts of men. A fresh realization of this wonderful love of the Father for all mankind is the greatest blessing that can come at Christmastime.

It was a revelation of God's love and plan of salvation that inspired Handel to produce the greatest oratorio of all time, The Messiah. It is fitting that we should, at this time of world uncertainty and fear, pause to expose our minds and hearts to the message of The Messiah. Its message of love and peace and hope should create in us new spiritual strength for the days ahead. This inspiration came to Handel, at a time of deep discouragement and poverty, in a selection of Scriptural passages arranged by a humble clergyman named Pooley. The simple truths from the Bible so gripped the old composer that he labored feverishly day and night for slightly over three weeks until he had finished the tremendous work. No one would doubt that the same Spirit that inspired the writing of the Holy Scriptures inspired also the setting of these Scriptures to music.

With a wonderful accuracy the theme picks up the golden thread of hope and follows it down through the ages. The complete plan of salvation and restoration is depicted, from the prophet's promise of the Saviour to the final triumphant song of praise sung by the redeemed of all ages before the throne of God.

No finer tribute could be paid The Messiah than that by the critic Rafael Kammerer, who on the occasion of the work's bicentennial in 1942 remarked: "In the two hundred years that have come and gone since Messiah first brought tears to the eyes of its creator and filled him with the vision of Heaven and the 'Great God Himself,' it has moved and thrilled more music lovers perhaps than any other choral work in the repertoire of choral societies, church or secular. The message of 'Peace on earth, good will to men' and the inherent promise of a better world to come, embodied in the text and clothed with the vibrant power and beauty of Handel's art, are as potent today as they were two hundred years ago."

Part 1 opens with the overture and the tenor recitatives, "Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God; speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem; and cry unto her, that her war fare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." And "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low." Part 1 continues with the prophecies of Christ and an invitation to come to Christ and find rest for your souls.

This rendition is performed by the Huddersfield Choral Society in England and is directed by Sir Malcolm Sargent.

3:04 RECORD: Number 1, side 1, L.P.

3:30 RECORD: Number 1, side 2, L.P.

3:55 ANNOUNCER: [Station identification.] We continue to present Part 1 of Handel's Messiah, brought to you through the courtesy of this station and the Strasburg Seventh-day Adventist church.

3:55&1/2 RECORD: Number 2, side 1, L.P., bands 1-4.

4:17 JACQUES: You have just heard Part 1 of Handel's Messiah. Part 2 presents Christ as "the Lamb of God," and is undoubtedly the most moving section of this great oratorio. The fact that He was rejected and despised by the very ones whom He came to save is vividly pictured: "He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every man to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn, they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying: 'He trusted in God that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him.' Thy rebuke hath broken His heart: He is full of heaviness. He looked for some to have pity on Him, but there was no man; neither found He any to comfort Him." The brokenhearted sorrow of Christ dying alone and rejected by all is the theme of the plaintive air: "Be hold and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow."

There follows the tragic declaration of His death: "He was cut off from the land of the living: for the transgression of thy people was He stricken." And then the announcement of His resurrection, followed by His ascension and welcome by the hosts of heaven.

The scene then shifts back to this earth, where the apostles undertake the tremendous task of telling the world of God's love and of the gift of His dear Son. "The Lord gave the word: great was the company of the preach ers. How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world."

The preaching of the gospel to all the world is followed by a description of world conditions just prior to the second coming of Christ. "Why do the nations so furiously rage together, and why do the people imagine a vain thing? He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision."

As the nations are in the very act of de stroying themselves, Christ, as King of kings and Lord of lords, interrupts the struggle, and the nations are "dashed to pieces like a potter's vessel." This great act of Christ, accomplished at His second coming, introduces the everlasting reign of Christ. "The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever." This is dramatically depicted in the glorious "Hallelujah Chorus."

4:20 RECORD: Number 2, side 1, L.P., band 5. 

4:24&1/2 RECORD: Number 2, side 2, L.P.

4:50 RECORD: Number 3, side 1, L.P.

5:16 ANNOUNCER: You are listening to a recorded presentation of Handel's Messiah, brought to you as a public service by this station in cooperation with the Strasburg Seventh-day Adventist church. Part 3 of The Messiah will be heard after station identification. [Station identification.] And now, Pastor O. L. Jacques, of the Strasburg Adventist church.

5:17 JACQUES: Part 3 of Handel's Messiah is the believer's expression of faith and hope in the great day of the resurrection that awaits all the faithful. The reality of this glorious experience is expressed in the beautiful air for soprano: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep." "Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive."

And then, in the words of Paul, the moment of the resurrection is thrillingly told: "Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." The trumpet solo depicting the glorious trump of God is one of the most brilliant trumpet renditions on record: "The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

The tremendous drama ends in an over powering chorus of praise, sung by the re deemed of all ages as they stand before the throne of God: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honor, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen."

5:18&1/2 RECORD: Number 3, side 2, L.P.

5:44&1/2 JACQUES: You have heard a full recorded con cert rendition of Handel's Messiah. May the hope and inspiration of this great oratorio bring peace to you this Christmas season. Amen!

ANNOUNCER: The preceding presentation was brought to you by the management and staff of Station WFTR in cooperation with the Seventh-day Adventist church of Strasburg. The Back to the Cross Crusade, usually heard at 5:30, will be heard next Sunday at the regular time.

5:45 CLOSE.

 

 


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Pastor-Evangelist, potomac Conferenc

September 1952

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