How is it that Christmastime in the City brings about this particular magic within the maddening crowds? Dickens tried to describe it, and unfailingly this cheer returns year after year. I can scarcely believe it is mere mass self-delusion generated by a Christian myth about the Messiah. As the choir rang out Handle’s words last night from the Prophet Isaiah, “For unto us a Son is given….,” a truth overwhelmed the entire city. There is more good than bad in the world, and we can order our lives together peacefully.
Handel’s Messiah is always more than a concert; the Hallelujah Chorus brings even the most jaded atheists to their feet as the words “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” rings through the night. Why does Christmastime in the City sparkle? I think because the sheer concentration of people in a city is a concentration of goodness and beauty. For these few days, by the grace of the Son who is given us, the vast majority of humanity in any city chooses to be good and beautiful. Even if it is only once a year, for a few weeks, Christmastime is a glimpse into what could be, what will be, and what in fact is. People are intrinsically good, true, and beautiful.