Devotion for December 8 – “Becoming a Christmas Angels”
In the last book of the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi proclaims this: “See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts” (3:1)
For almost 500 years after Malachi wrote this, it appeared that heaven was silent. No new declarations, no new prophecies, no sign of this messenger. All was quiet. 500 years! That’s a long time of silence. If 500 years wasn’t enough, it had been almost 800 years since Isaiah proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. For people like us who now expect overnight delivery, waiting for a centuries to pass to receive this gift from God seems crazy.
But then one ordinary year, seemingly no different than the past few hundred, things started to happen – strange things – things that needed explaining. And for the explanations, God sends angels.
Eugene Peterson tells about one winter day as he was walking with his dog along the Flathead River in Montana, the dog’s head suddenly plunged into fourteen inches of snow and he came up with a field mouse. Peterson later wrote that that experience showed him that there were so many things going on around him, that he wasn’t attuned to. When he applied that fact to the spiritual realm, he realized there was an awful lot that he was not detecting. “There is always more there than meets the eye.” he wrote. “We miss a lot. We need people who will grab our shirttails, turn us around, and show us what we just now missed, in our hurry to get across the street on the way to the bank – that is why God sends angels.”
“The function of angels,” Peterson continues, “is to break down the distinction between natural and supernatural. We avoid thinking of them both in the same context. We put scientists and engineers in charge of the natural, and pastors and poets in charge of the supernatural. We think we can keep things simpler and less confusing that way. But, in fact, we are now working with one hand tied behind our backs. Angels come to our rescue by untying the other hand, for they are witnesses to essential oneness of the two halves.”
When God needed to tell Zechariah about the upcoming (and impossible) birth of a son to him and Elizabeth, God sent an angel. When Mary was informed about her upcoming super-natural pregnancy, God sent an angel. When Joseph needed to understand what was going on, God sent an angel. When the birth of Jesus came and God decided at least a few in the world needed to know about it, God sent angels to the shepherds.
All over the Christmas story we find angels explaining what was happening to the people who saw the world only in concrete ways.
The world “angel” in Greek means “messenger.” An angel is one who brings a message from God to the people. With that in mind, I want to challenge all of you to becoming Christmas Angels this year – and let people know about Jesus. So many don’t understand what Christmas is all about – and so God sends angels ... and God sends you!
~ God bless, Dan