That was the question that was asked by an inquisitive young girl as we were practicing for the children’s Christmas program. At the time, we laughed it off with a, “Well, since we are telling the story of the stable in this program, they are all busy hanging out with the shepherds in the fields.” Having found multiple boxes of angel costumes and wings while cleaning out the KidMin supply closet, I could only assume that there may have always been an angel presence in these things in the past. This year’s program was more about the farm animals. This allowed any child with a desire to be in the program, the chance to wear a farm animal headband and be a part.
Then, this morning, while reading Dr. David Jeremiah’s, “25 Reasons Why We Celebrate The Nativity,” he asked me the question, “Why The Angels?” He shared out loud, on the printed page, that “we tend to place the angels on the periphery of the scene, almost at a distance.” He goes on to say, “In truth, however, the angels cannot be an afterthought.” No kidding. Angels were all over this.
We really know very little about the appearance of angels in the scriptures. The artists of the Middle Ages rendered them glowing, wearing white, toting around huge wings, with their heads encircled with halos. Whatever they looked like, it must have been terrifying. Their first words in the scriptures were usually, “Do not be afraid.”
Yep, angels were all over this one. Why angels? I’m thinking that the close parties in this series of events were not likely to ignore the advice of such fabulous messengers.
Angel to Zechariah in the Holy Of Holies… Angel to Mary… Angel to Joseph in a dream … Angels to the Shepherds… even Angels to the Magi to “go home a different way.”
What really hit me this season is that these Angels were busy carrying out the urgent work of God. They brought messages of critical importance to God’s people. There was a sense of urgency, and God’s people responded…immediately:
Mary went to Elizabeth (later we find that Jesus never sent out His disciples to take on a task alone, but always in groups of 2 or 3.)
Joseph took Mary as his wife. (Even when it seems hard to obey, we can trust that “God’s got this one.” And maybe, just maybe, pleasing God and not others should be the priority.)
The Shepherds left their flocks to find the Christ child and told everyone who would listen of what they had seen. (If He truly is LORD of my life and Savior of the world, shouldn’t there be a sense of urgency to tell others of this God of love and surprises?)
The Magi went home another way. (I’ll let you figure out how you’ll go home a different way this season.)
Hebrews 13:2 reminds us that in showing hospitality, many have entertained angels without knowing it. I’m thinking that Angel activity is ongoing. We may not see them, but we can surely follow their lead:
By staying busy with the work of heaven.
By telling people that God is still in the business of creating and resurrecting.
And sometimes exploding in the simple joy of seeing the miracle that Christ is alive in our world is enough to hold us through the dark times. Especially when we sit, holding our heads in our hands, and exclaim, “This is not what I had planned.” (Getting a “Joseph.”)
Joy to the world…Joy to my world.