Questions About Angels

I know it’s almost Christmas, so that would explain the abundance of angel imagery that has surrounded me lately, but it has caused me to think. Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, has a lovely take on angels and has become one of my favorite poets. We sang “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” yesterday during worship and I really appreciate the way it was lead. The worship leaders claimed that the arrangement was from another group, but it was new to me. Nothing was changed in the melody, but the last line of every stanza was repeated, always some variation on hearing the angels sing. My wife and Jen Reed sang a duet that was very touching and beautiful, but not the picture that comes to mind when I consider hearing the angels sing of the birth of Christ (you know what I mean). Before I get to the singing however, the scripture we read came from Luke 1 and 2. In each passage, we see an angel bringing news to the earth. Luke 1:26-33 is the announcement to Mary that she will bear the Christ child. The angel appears and Mary is “greatly troubled.” Could it be that she was a little freaked out at first? I don’t want to presume how or what Mary felt, but every time angels show up, the first thing they say seems to be “Do not be afraid!” These angels must be a sight to see, definitely not the crummy precious moments garbage.

            Then we have the shepherds hanging out, looking at some sheep when BOOM, angels. Luke 2: 8-15 recounts the story. What I love about this story is not that the shepherds were “greatly troubled.” They were terrified. What a comical scene, comical of course because I wasn’t one of the shepherds, I’m sure I would have wet my pants too. As if that weren’t bizarre enough, a great company of the Heavenly Host joined in singing praises. Where do you go from there? Step 1-pick jaw up off the ground. Step 2-? These guys simply said we gotta check this out, and they did.

            Why do angels frighten the people they meet? Is it that they are like something we have never seen? I’m just a little frightened thinking about it. (Changing lines of thought a little) I was listening/singing with one of li’l Avery’s CDs the song Frere Jacques (I don’t know the history of the song, but don’t care to know). They sing the English version (without repeat): Are you sleeping, Brother John? Morning bells are ringing. Ding, Dang, Dong. In the context of the above, I couldn’t help but think that this Advent, God is saying: My people, are you sleeping? The Morning bells (my angels) are singing of the birth of Christ!

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