Secrets of the Christmas Universe: Handel’s Messiah, Slag and You.

 

Our Orcas Island Community Church advent series is based on Handel’s Messiah: Secrets of the Christmas Universe. This week the text was drawn from Malachi 3, the basis for The amazing bass solo “Who Can Endure the Day of His Coming.”  “But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness.”
Not being an expert on the process of refining, I looked into it because the refiners fire is used to purify precious metals like gold by separating the metals from impurities or other unwanted materials. The first step in the refining of precious metals is smelting. Gold is melted in a furnace until the impurities separate and the gold sinks to the bottom. The second step is getting rid of the slag The molten metals are then poured into a cone shaped container where the gold goes to the bottom and the slag remains at the top where it can be scraped off. The third step is to make gold bars. Once the impurities are removed, the gold is melted once again and poured into bars.
Getting rid of the slag in our life allows us to present ourselves to God as an offering of righteousness. Our salvation is based on the messiah’s work (“All we like sheep have gone astray and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquities of us all.”); our righteousness is the gift we bring to when we allow God to purify us.
Malachi is very specific about the “Slag” in the Jewish believers of his times. They had gotten mixed up in sorcery, witchcraft, sexual immorality, lying, perjury and divorce. They withheld their tithes from God and defrauded laborers of their wages, oppressed the widows and the Fatherless and deprived aliens of justice. Most of all, they no longer reverenced God. (“You do not fear me,” Says the LORD Almighty).
When Paul updated the list to young Timothy he described our contemporary age perfectly! “In the last days, people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.”
God will not refine us until we know we need it, until we can say like actress Tallulah Bankhead. “I’m as pure as the driven slush.”
In his book Confessions, the great church father Augustine acknowledged that for a long time he did want God to purify him, saying the his prayer instead was,  “O Lord, help me to be pure, but not yet!”
But Jesus reminds us that without purity we cannot see God. “BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN SPIRIT, FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD.”
Take a look at the picture above. It is not an asteroid. It is slag refined off the gold.
Christmas is a great time to welcome the Christ more fully into our lives AND to refine us down to the gold and knock off the slag!

 

Posted in Staublog in December 7, 2011 by | 1 Comment »

One Response to Secrets of the Christmas Universe: Handel’s Messiah, Slag and You.

  1. ST120711 | Dick Staub on December 7, 2011 at 11:39 am

    […] God will not refine us until we know we need it, until we can say like actress Tallulah Bankhead. “I’m as pure as the driven slush. Read More. […]

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