Category Archives: Angels

Christmas Countdown: Message

I was so focused on the messengers (aka angels) in my last post, I paid scant attention to their messages.  I know the message in each case was just as surprising as the appearance of the messenger and that there was a subversive tone to the text.  But I can’t recall the details.

This is what I remember:

  • Zechariah was told Elizabeth (his wife) would bear son despite their old age, they would name him John, and he would “prepare the way” of the Lord.
  • Mary was told she would bear a child despite her youth and ‘not quite married’ status.  Was she told they would name him Jesus?
  • The shepherds heard “for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a child who is Christ the Lord.”

Between the Charlie Brown Christmas television special, theological education, dozens of Christmas pageants and who knows how many Christmas Eve services, I should remember more.  But not at the moment.

(Pause here to get a Bible and reread the passages from Luke 1 and 2.)

“Fear not.”

Every time an angel appears we hear “don’t be afraid.”  Of course I knew that; I just didn’t think of it a few minutes ago!

“Fear not” is an oft-repeated phrase throughout scripture.  Yet we fear.  We are afraid for all kinds of reasons – real and imagined, large and small, for ourselves and for others.

Maybe we don’t admit it.  At least I don’t often admit the fear.  But I will worry.  My husband could testify that I am quite good at imaging the worst.  Being anxious is second nature to me.  A daily dose of an anti-anxiety prescription helps.  Remembering the birds and the lilies helps (“so do not worry about tomorrow” – Matthew 6:34).  Having people who love and encourage me helps.  A walk outdoors helps.  Reading the Psalms helps (Psalm 91 is my favorite).  Piecing a quilt helps.  Humming a song helps.

Holy One, sender of messengers and messages, quell today’s fears and tomorrow’s worries that we might know the hope, joy, love and peace of your presence among us.  Amen.

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Christmas Countdown: Angels

Angels are messengers from God.

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They are – or at least one is – busy in the story of Christ’s birth as recorded in the gospel of Luke.

The angel Gabriel appears and tells Zechariah his wife Elizabeth will have a son whom they will name John.  Never mind that they are both “getting on in years.”  After questioning the angel, Zechariah is struck speechless until after the boy is born. (Luke 1:20, 64)  When she determines she is pregnant, Elizabeth seems to simply wonder and be grateful. (Luke 1:25)

God sends Gabriel to visit a rather young woman with the (good) news that she will bear a child who will be called “the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:31-32)  Mary also questions the angel.  Does she ponder Gabriel’s reply at all?  For a moment, an hour, longer?

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”  Luke 1: 38a NRSV

Nine months later an angel of the Lord visited shepherds to tell of the Messiah’s birth.  The shepherds, with little hesitation, decide to go and see what has taken place. (Luke 2:15)

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Quite honestly, if an angel visited me with that kind of news my first response is likely to be disbelief.  Frankly, if an angel of the sort pictured here visited me I’d probably pass out.

But what of other kinds of angels, the ones with human faces?  Like the pastor who sent me a note wondering if I’d ever consider seminary.  Like the doctor who called a friend to see if they would adopt another child.  Like foster parents who open their home with love and compassion.  Like seniors who spend time at an elementary school listening to children read.  Like the couple who trained their dog to do pet therapy and now all three visit a nursing home every Tuesday afternoon.  Like the harpist who plays at a Hospice home.  Like ….

Tell me of an angel you’ve met!