Brown County residents who have yet to catch the Christmas spirit this year are presented with several assists this week. Some — like the “Christmas 2007” program presented Tuesday night by the Brownwood High and Middle school choirs and the Magical High-Lights of Christmas Parade in Brownwood on Nov. 30 — you’ve already missed. But there’s more. The fourth annual presentation of portions of Handel’s “Messiah” is scheduled for tonight. And the Bangs Business Association’s annual Christmas parade will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The word “annual” figures prominently in all of these holiday activities. Area residents have created a variety of special occasions where members of the community can gather and celebrate the Christmas holidays. Many churches in the area have already presented cantatas and other sacred programs and presentations, and others like this weekend’s live Nativity at First Christian Church are yet to come.

“Messiah” is one of the true epics compositions in Christian music, and potential audience members with busy schedules can be relieved that tonight’s performance focuses primarily on the Christmas segment of George Frideric Handel’s work. Otherwise, it could be an investment of three hours or so out of the busiest time of the year. For a growing number of residents, thanks to the Lyric Theatre’s annual production, it’s not officially the holidays until they attend this presentation. Others may have never heard any of this masterpiece. But they all can experience the majesty of Handel’s music, including the “Hallelujah Chorus,” at the First United Methodist Church in Brownwood at 7:30 p.m. today. Admission is free.

It’s a busy time of the year for everyone. Perhaps hectic is a more appropriate adjective. But programs such as this provide a time to pause and reflect in the glory of the Christmas message — something many believe is sorely lacking in too many of the traditions that have developed around the season.

This annual performance has become a welcome community tradition. Hopefully, many residents will be able to find some time in their schedules for the “Messiah” this holiday season, in more ways than even this.

Brownwood Bulletin