FacebookSundays at 10:3010:30 AM Sunday Mornings  

Pastor's Desk

From The Pastor's Desk

Back to News
Advent and Angels

We live in a world that is jaded by information overload. It often seems that the need to communicate the next story has led to a kind of recklessness in what is repeated. We cannot rely on the media to get it right. So we have experienced the rise of what is known as “fake news.”

Christmas tells us an amazing story, one that strikes the hearer as “unbelievable!” How can it be that God becomes a human being and that happens by being “born” of a virgin? Would you believe if one of our national broadcasters told it? Not likely for it is too fantastic. No human being can be entrusted with breaking this story! That is why I think the Christmas narratives are filled with angelic appearances.

1. The Coming of the Child is announced by angels

The coming of the Christ child was first announced by angels. It is remarkable that God entrusted this news to heavenly messengers. An angel first appeared to Zechariah with the announcement of the birth of the forerunner, John; then, an angel announced to Mary that she would bear a son who was to be “called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever” (Lk 1:32). Likewise, Joseph received an angelic vision by night regarding the birth of the child whose name was to be “Jesus.” When the child was born, the angel announced this news to the shepherds, and finally heaven spilled into the night skies near Bethlehem with the worship song of the angel chorus.

Who are these creatures entrusted with this amazing news? They are beings who are “holy and uncorrupted, spirit in original essence” (“Angels,” in NBD). They dwell in God’s presence and are his messengers/servants. These are heavenly beings who enjoy the perfect bliss of the divine courts, who know what wonder is and when to express praise for something truly great! The supernatural character of the messengers authenticates the supernatural message that they bring; for the angels are supernatural witnesses. Only such creatures could be believed when they announce such news!

2. The coming of the Child is celebrated by angels

Luke 2 reveals that an angel appeared with the news of the child’s birth to the shepherds. But after that announcement, “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest . . .” How incredible that ANGELS worship! It is of course, just because they are so exalted and blessed, dwelling in the presence of the one who is altogether wonderful, that their worship is so striking. What would it take to cause them to break forth in this kind of praise given their habitat? Only some event so extraordinary that even heaven is surprised by it. That is what the birth of the messiah was.

And how do the angels worship? Why they are united in corporate worship; “a multitude of the heavenly hosts” takes part on that night. They offer exuberant, energetic worship, so joyous that the boundaries of heaven cannot contain it and it spills over into the domain of humanity. It was likely musical since the term “praise” is most often linked with singing or playing music, in part because music is an expression of joy. They could not help but fill the cosmos with a song that declared the glory of God who became incarnate to bring salvation to lost humanity. And so the most heavenly of all God’s creatures, lead the way as they join together to celebrate the God of grace on the occasion of his sending his son. In this supernatural worship, the profoundness of this event is signaled; what is transpiring is “off the charts!”

3. The Coming of the Child is embraced because of angelic witness

As we read the narrative here, the presence of angels always caused initial reaction of fear as people are shocked and disturbed. Zechariah is “gripped with fear” (Lk 1:12); Mary is “greatly troubled” and is told “do not be afraid;” and the shepherds, though used to all kinds of threats in their work “are terrified” (Lk 2:9) when the angel appeared.

But ultimately each of these people embraced the news and responded to it. Zechariah accepted his role as father of the forerunner; Mary devoted herself to be the handmaid of the Lord; Joseph “did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife” (Matt 1:24); the shepherds went to see “this thing that has happened which the Lord has told us about” (Lk 2:15). Because of angelic witness and worship, people's lives were forever changed!

 

So what is the takeaway for us? Maybe you wish sometimes that we could experience angelic testimony to the coming of the king. Maybe that would create the breakthrough for gospel news to be accepted and believed far and wide! BUT wait! Do we not have angelic witness? Does not the scripture give the record about it to us? We too can have confidence in the message they brought that first Christmas because it comes from the courts of heaven. The apostle Peter would later remind his hearers that they “did not followed cunningly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of the Lord” (2 Pet 1:16). This news, incredible as it might have seemed, was a story not broken by people originally, but by faithful and reliable heavenly messengers! We too can count on its veracity! Moreover, we have heavenly beings who responded with worship to this news. If they, coming from the glories of heaven, saw it as occasion to worship, how much more should we join that worshiping community in adoration for what has come! Yes this is a season “to come and worship.”

Finally with such a glorious, reliable message, is it not right that we should ACT upon it! Joseph took Mary as his wife and Mary accepted Joseph as her husband. Zechariah committed himself to fathering the forerunner of Jesus and preparing him for his work. The shepherds went to see the child who was born and then announced his birth to others. The good news heralded by angelic messengers summons us to worship and to serve the King whose coming we celebrate.