Sunday December 21st – The Fourth Sunday of Advent #Angel

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During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Angel.

angelAngels are a rather important part of the Christmas story. They appear at least six key times within the birth narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Their roles generally involve sharing good news and good tidings, though they also appear to warn the family to flee from Herod after Jesus’ birth as well. Their very presence signifies that God is up to something big here.

In taking stock of the different angel appearances, in Luke 1:11-20 an angel appears to Zechariah foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist. A little later in the first chapter of Luke, an angel appears to Mary in 1:26-38 foretelling of the birth of Jesus. In Matthew 1:18-25 we hear how an angel appeared in a dream to Joseph, and that kept Joseph engaged to Mary and he did not abandon her because she was with child.

In announcing the birth of Jesus as detailed in Luke 2:8-20, the angels appeared to the shepherds in the field calling them to take notice and go and see. After Jesus’ birth, the angels are the ones in Matthew 2:13-15 who warn the family to flee to Egypt, and then about when it is safe to return to Israel in 2:19-23.

As Advent begins to close, and we journey to the manger this week, it’s good to reflect on the angels and the role they play in helping show what God is up to. Reflect on these passages above, and take some time with the text of another of my favorite carols, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

“Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.’ Joyful, all you nations, rise; join the triumph of the skies; with angelic hosts proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!’ Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king!’

Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord, late in time behold him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail, incarnate deity! Pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel! Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king!’

Hail the heaven born Prince of peace! Hail the Sun of righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die, born to raise each child of earth, born to give us second birth. Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king!’”

What comes to your mind about the angels?

Source: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley; Felix Mendelssohn, arr. William H. Cummings.

Image Credit: Angel Statue

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