Luke 2: 8-14
“And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of
the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.”
In our unenchanted world, it can be hard to take angels seriously. But if we dismiss the angels, there is no way for God to reach us. The word angel means simply “messenger.” It doesn’t mean wings or glitter or silk damask. It means, Listen—there is a message for you.
Our literal concept of angels is far too narrow, argues theologian Walter Wink. He spoke of angels as the “inner aspect” of things, the “inner spirit or driving force,” the spark, the soul, the energy that makes it take wing. Everything, then, has an angel, if we have eyes to see the soul within. Everything is a messenger, if we stop, look and listen.
The angel who appeared to the shepherds came with a clear message from heaven. It was “good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.” The story doesn’t tell us what this angel looked like, only that the shepherds were bathed in light and that they received the message. They believed it. They acted on it—took off for Bethlehem.
If we crunch angels into a literal category, we can rejoice that such a wonderful thing happened for the shepherds, but it can’t happen for us. That stuff only happened in Bible times. But if we begin to understand and perceive the angels inherent in all the people, places, events and experiences of our lives, those messengers of heaven can appear even to us. Christmas angels can appear everywhere. The “good news of a great joy” can be delivered to us.
Prayer: Don’t give up on us, Lord—we who have missed or dismissed all the angels you have dispatched from heaven; send the Christmas angel again and we will be ready, willing. Amen.