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The meaning of Handel’s ‘Messiah’

Posted December 05, 2012 in Community Featured, Johnston

When George Fredrick Handel wrote “Messiah,” he was in one of the lowest times of his life.

He had lost popularity with the public. Creditors were at his door. He struggled with depression. He feared he would finish his days in a debtor’s prison.

In the summer of 1741 a letter came from an eccentric English landowner named Charles Jennens. The letter was a compilation of Old Testament and New Testament passages. Handel read the texts over and over. He was greatly moved and felt led to put them to music. He locked himself in his study and within seven days he had completed Part I — the Christmas section of the piece. He finished Parts II and III in a little more than two weeks. The music went on to be a big success.

New Hope United Methodist Church and its Johnston River of Life ministry will be doing a sermon series based on the Scripture texts of Handel’s “Messiah.” We hope you will come and join us to hear about the true meaning of Christmas through these texts.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, at our 8:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. services at New Hope, we will have a celebration of the decorations of the Christmas season. Each family will receive a Christmas ornament.

The children of New Hope will present their Christmas program on Sunday, Dec. 9. at our 9:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. services. Our 8:30 a.m. service will be our usual informal traditional service.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, at our 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. services, New Hope’s Chancel Choir will present our Christmas cantata entitled “Together for Christmas.” Our 9:30 a.m. service will be our usual contemporary worship service in the Family Life Center.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, at 5 and 7 p.m., the entire Johnston community is invited to come and worship at “The Barn” in Johnston. We will have live animals as a part of the nativity as we worship in a setting that is designed to remind us of the birthplace of our Lord. It is a lively service with contemporary and traditional elements to help us more deeply understand the meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ. For more information go to www.johnstonriver of

Come to the New Hope campus at 4545 Beaver Ave. on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 24, as we celebrate together the birth of Jesus Christ during three unique candlelight services:

• 5:30 p.m.: Family worship in the Family Life Center.

• 7:30 p.m.: Our traditional Christmas Eve service designed for families, our Chancel choir and a candlelight service to welcome the Christ Child

• 10 p.m.: Our candlelight service based on the Service of Lessons and Carols, with Holy Communion. (The United Methodist Church practices an open Communion.) We also have special music for the evening.

During this holy season, New Hope United Methodist Church invites you to experience the true meaning of Christmas and rejoice in the hope and joy that Jesus Christ brings into your life. Join us for these services of the season, or any other time. New Hope’s doors are open and all are welcome.

New Hope UMC is located at 4545 beaver Ave., in Des Moines. Check us out on the web at or at our Johnston River of Life website at www.johnstonriver of, follow us on Facebook, or call our office at 278-2097 for more information.

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