I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you….In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary…And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God…
Luke 1:3, 26; 2:13
Whether or not Jesus was born of a virgin is irrelevant to the Christmas story or to my faith. But the angels are real. Angels come and go throughout the Bible narrative frequently. Angels not only appear to Mary and the shepherds, but they guide Joseph’s escape to Egypt and instruct him when to return. After the period of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness the angels again “appeared and looked after him.”
We talk about guardian angels and wonder where the guardian angels were when bad things happen to good people. Admittedly, the presence of these angels in our lives is a mystery, but it’s refreshing to hear the doctor Luke speak with such certainty about their appearance. Also, in the book of Acts, Luke doesn’t hesitate to speak of angels and gives them credit for freeing Peter from prison. Amy Grant’s song “Angels” describes Peter’s experience and resonates with my feelings. And who does not find inspiration from the angel Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life?”
Angels are another example of the spiritual aspect of our life that we often neglect because we get so wrapped up with the metrics of life – what we can measure and count.
One of the more memorable funerals I attended this past year was Nolan Howington’s during which two of his sons sang one of his favorite tunes, “Angel Band.” “Oh bear me away on your snow white wings to my immortal home.” It’s romanticized, but the sentiment speaks to our being surrounded by the great cloud of witnesses and the angel band.
Dear God, Thank you that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Amen. Thank you, God!