The Messiah Goes to Macy’s

If people won’t come to church, church can come to them, right?  Here’s a good example: the Opera Company of Philadelphia went to Macy’s Center City and burst into the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah.  It’s amazing to see how many shoppers joined in and sang along, especially when you consider what they were singing.  In spite of the opera’s claim that this was a “Random Act of Culture,” the words are decidedly counter-cultural:  “Hallelujah, for the Lord God, the Omnipotent, reigneth!” 

You won’t find that in many of Macy’s ads.

Enjoy the show, and then maybe you can join me in spending as much time thinking about how to get church to people as we usually spend thinking about how to get people to church.

Special thanks to my friend Ron Smith for passing this video along to me.

10 thoughts on “The Messiah Goes to Macy’s

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I have stopped my mundane activity here at the office for a glimpse of the Almighty in a most extraordinary way.

  2. Pastor Jim,

    Could it be that it’s as easy as challenging the people already in the church to do more than the onlookers who were feeling good merely “mouthing the words” of the gospel? Or, perhaps we need to provide them with an example or engage them with a missional structure in which this can happen. Bless God

  3. You are welcome. I am glad that you enjoyed the video. Except for Macy’s maybe rushing the Christmas season a little bit, I thought the video was very nice. Of course, Macy’s is not the only retailer that rushes the Christmas season a little too much, but I guess one has to expect that with the economy continuing to be in the doldrums.

  4. Hey Jim!
    Thanks for posting the Macy’s Messiah segment! I love the blog and thanks to Joe Smith in DC, I got connected to it. I’m excited to see how your church is progressing.

    Sharon and I are now on the west coast in LA County where we are in a unique situation with an ABC congregation where the person before me came in 1927 and I in 2007. How about that as a long pastorate! He died at 101 still pastor about 7 years ago. We are finishing our third year and having a good experience!

    Blessings on you in Richmond!

    Again, thanks for the blog!

  5. WOW! Rev. Updike’s predecessor came to that church in 1927 and was Pastor until 2007! WHOA! And I thought people and ministers tend to stay at First Baptist a long time! AWESOME! Lessee, if Dr. Jim stays at First Baptist that long, that would make him, what, around 130 years old! But I have every confidence he can do it! After all, they say that the Apostle John had to be carried in to do his sermons in his later years. First Baptist could do that for Dr. Jim! ;>

  6. Much of the exchange following the wonderful Macy’s Philadephia rendition of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ has referred to European Colonial Imperatives, so it seems appropriate to expound a British view of the event.
    One recognises that these days there is (sadly) a much greater level of religious affiliation in America than that which remains in the UK, but many of us here still believe and try to conduct our lives in the spirit of our ancestors and so continue to revere their works, especially their musical works like ‘Messiah’.
    We are inured to annual attendances at performances of this piece, and continue to respect it notwithstanding our concerns that its composer might have overegged his own concvictions when he said of the Chorus -’Me-thought I did see the Heavens open, and the Great God Himself’.
    Listening to the piece standing in the traditional way has thus become a part of our national culture.
    What most impresses British viewers of the Macy’s event is thus to see members of the audience, clearly not part of the planned event, rising to their feet and (especially the men) singing the (bass) parts they can emulate.
    It is this wish to participate in an event we find most encouraging, and we see no need to speculate on whether such involuntary participation is because of faith or cultural involvement since we see these to be synonymous.
    Professor Sir Keith Chittenden

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