Advent, Week Four
The angels who announced the birth of Jesus were a far cry from the "Precious Moments" angels that adorn some of our fireplace mantels at Christmas time. As we noted in Week 3, angels were terrifying to all of the humans to whom they appeared throughout the stories of the Bible. Angels routinely tell the humans they meet that they should not be afraid because the natural response of a human being when he or she sees an angel of God seems to be overwhelming fear.
But as powerful and awe-inspiring as they apparently are, there are some things God has allowed us to see that even angels can only dream of. Consider this passage from the first letter of the apostle Peter in the New Testament:
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12, ESV)
Human beings, as a fallen race of creatures who are forgiven by the grace of God because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, are uniquely positioned to experience forgiveness and grace and mercy in a way that angels cannot. But oh, how they can worship! We can take a few lessons from angels and other heavenly beings concerning what it means to worship God and worship the Lamb of God, his Son, Jesus, the Christ (See Revelation 5).
Discussion: Angels announced his birth, but what are some of the other ways in which angels were involved in the life of Jesus on earth? What sorts of things did Jesus say about angels? What does their presence in the fields with the shepherds say about the birth of Jesus?
Family activity: Discuss with your children how something can be beautiful and powerful, but also scary (fireworks, for example). While we may never see angels, Scripture stories involving angels suggest that they are involved in the lives of human beings in a variety of ways. Much of what we think we know about angels may be speculation, but there are modern-day accounts of how angels have protected people supernaturally--we can certainly tell our children that angels are real, that they are good, and that they are watching over us in ways that we can't even imagine.
Advent reading, Week 4:
December 18, 2016: Fourth Sunday of Advent
It is now the final Sunday of Advent--our time of preparation for our celebration of the birth of Jesus is coming to a close. We are reminded of the host of angels who appeared to the shepherds in a display of worship and rejoicing that was both terrifying and thrilling to the keepers of the flocks. We remember how the apostle Peter spoke of the unfolding of the gospel of Christ throughout human history as “things into which angels long to look.”
So today we light the Angels’ Candle, to symbolize the promise in the angels’ song: “Peace on earth!” We rejoice that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we can have peace with God today, and we rejoice that a time is coming when we will truly be at peace, when there will be no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain.
Prayer: Our heavenly Father, we are grateful for the promise of peace--because of the state of the world in which we live, our hearts break with longing for this peace, Lord. But we know that there is a peace that eludes all understanding, and that this peace is ours when we are in relationship with you through Christ. We pray that you will surround us with your peace in these troubled times, and teach us how to rejoice in the hope that Jesus brings. In his name we pray--AMEN.