...an angel gets its wings!
It's easy to recognize that famous line from It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart...famous in this season and any other day of the year.
Sweet sentiments about angels are reflected in our collective psyche. From well-known collectibles to handmade arts and crafts, angels often have a reputation for pixie dust and fairy tales. A quick scan of my own Christmas tree shows a few sweet and dainty messengers with lipstick, gauzy chiffon, and powdery-white faces. They have dresses and frocks which make them seem more like Cinderella with wings.
How very wrong this sentiment is though. If we read what the Bible has to say about angels, we find a very different reality.
From Luke 2...
9 An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
Can you even imagine? The Christmas story can certainly become so rote that I know, I can overlook the incredible parts that make up its whole.
When an angel of the Lord appeared to the Shepherds, the glory that one angel projected was terrifying to men. The angel the shepherds saw shined the glory of the Lord all about. And the shepherds were terrified! This angel was not a flitting fairy who waved a magic wand, just out of reach.
After calming the shepherds, the angel then proclaimed the news of Messiah's birth and gave them a sign to look for. The angel served as a helper to mankind, announcing the Messiah and the plan God would institute for salvation: to bring peace through this baby unto those on whom God's favor rests--a plan which even angels longed to look into.
1 Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
And if that weren't enough shock and awe, a great company of the heavenly host then appeared. An army of angels filled the sky to join with the one who spoke with the shepherds! Together, they sang a song. It was a song of praise to God for sending his Son.
The Captain of the Host, their Commander in Chief--Jesus, had condescended to men (Philippians 2:7-11). Almighty God was born into the constraints of human flesh as a baby in a cattle stall. The angels were certainly eager to see what would come of it all.
Then they returned to heaven where they make their home. Nothing rote about that!
This week of advent, try sharing with your children the truth about these messengers--as reflected in Scripture rather than what might be gathered from the Hallmark Store. There is much to learn in the Bible about angels and how they help and serve--specifically, serve men and women who put their faith in Christ. Our Pastor has been preaching from Isaiah 6 for several weeks and it has been challenging! It has helped to draw my thoughts along these lines as well. Angels don't always come in glory. Some people have entertained them unaware (Hebrews 13:2). Yet unveiled, in all their glory, they are astonishing. And they are just a foretaste of the glory of God!
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted,seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
May we come to know the one who rules these mighty angels and worship the Messiah this advent season and every day.
In Christ's love, Erika