December 07, 2020

Advent 2020 - Angels

 Devotion for the Week...

It's the second week of Advent and here in Newfoundland we still don't have any snow. It's so weird! As I'm typing this it's pouring rain, actually. There is the possibility of snow in the forecast for this week, but I'm the only one in the family who would be happy about that. Do you have snow where you are? Or do you ever have snow? 

For this year's Advent devotions, we're looking at four of our Christmas traditions/symbols and their origins in the Bible. Last week I shared some thoughts about Christmas music and today I'm going to look at angels. Angels top Christmas trees, adorn cards and gift wrap, keep watch over manger scenes and look adorable in Christmas concerts and plays (or at least they do most years, not so much in 2020).

There are certainly angels in the Christmas story. There's Gabriel, who appeared to Mary to tell her about the child she would bear (Luke 1:28-38), the angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him to go ahead and marry Mary (Matthew 1:20-21), the angel who spoke to the shepherds and the "vast host of others—the armies of heaven" who joined him (Luke 2:8-14).

Have you ever noticed that the Bible never tells us what angels look like? The only indication we ever get is that they appear as men and the two angels who are named have male names - Gabriel and Michael. But in terms of their actual appearance, there's nothing. Your guess is as good as mine, and as likely to be right as any artist's representation.

I find it interesting that when an angel appears, they usually immediately tell the person they're visiting not to be afraid, as Gabriel did with Mary and the angel who appeared to the shepherds did as well. I've always wondered if they look that frightening or so obviously otherworldly, or if it's just that their sudden appearance would be frightening. I mean, if some being suddenly appeared next to me as I'm going about my business, I'd probably be scared and need a little reassurance, too, no matter what he looked like!

On the flip side, Hebrews 13:2 says, "Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!" It seems angels can look just like us at least some of the time, when they need to interact with us without drawing attention. It makes you wonder if you have ever looked at or spoken to an angel without realizing it, doesn't it?
Representations of angels are more prevalent at Christmas, but real angels are around all year long |
Like us, angels are created beings, not beings to be worshipped. The writer of Hebrews says of them, "angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation." And the angel who appeared to John in Revelation said to him, "No, don’t worship me. I am a servant of God, just like you and your brothers the prophets, as well as all who obey what is written in this book. Worship only God!" (Revelation 22:9).

Representations of angels are more prevalent at Christmas, but real angels are around all year long.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if I've met an angel, but I had an experience that left me wondering...
    I had a routine eye exam for new glasses - the optometrist took one look into my right eye and called the emergency eye institute in the city near us. 20 minutes later we headed off, to rule out a brain tumour. After 6 hours of tests, seeing different doctors, and a brain scan, the tumour was ruled out - PTL! but, it was late afternoon, we'd had no lunch or even a coffee. We found a local coffee shop, ordered coffee and a sandwich, and then tried to find a seat - no way... we wandered around for a bit - and then a woman stood up from her table, and asked if we'd like to sit. I saw her wandering around for a few minutes, so when I had finished, I found her and thanked her profusely. I shared a bit about our day, and she promised to pray for me - then walked around the corner - and I didn't see her again (I looked!). I still don't know if she was an angel, but I'd like to believe that God was watching me and sent her to us when we just really to be cared for.


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