And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Luke 2:9-10
In the window of the church office at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Round Lake there was a picture that I saw every time I walked down that hall.
It was a picture of a very stormy day – dark clouds, fog, rain, etc.
In the center was the figure of a person in a white robe. The face was obscured by the fog and rain. The story was that this was a picture of an angel that someone had taken.
The person who took this picture (if it’s authentic) must have been filled with great fear. It appeared to be in the middle of a storm. It looks frightening.
As a pastor, I believe that angels exist. I don’t have any personal experience with angels but I do believe the Bible to be true and the Bible talks about angels from beginning to end!
An angel of the Lord appears to shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem. They bring the message of the newborn Messiah first to the shepherds of Bethlehem.
The Messiah who is a descendent of David, himself once a shepherd from Bethlehem!
This angel had just been in the presence of God Almighty in heaven, and so still reflects the glory of the Lord, lighting up these shepherds, their sheep, and the field around them.
Naturally, they are fill with fear! Who wouldn’t be?
Whenever an angel shows up, they usually have to first say, “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid.”
That’s the case with this shepherds. But the angel doesn’t just stop there. He gets to the point of his presence. He gives them a message.
That’s what angels do. They give messages from God to people. That’s what angels are. They are messengers.
The message of this angel is good news, it is Gospel. And this gospel message would bring great joy to all people.
The Christmas message does exactly that. It brings joys.
Sometimes that joy takes a while to sink in. After all, the Christmas holiday is a time when depression and stress are at all-time highs.
Sometimes we need something to get our attention. Sometimes we need to stop what we’re doing, what we’re worried about, what we’re stressing about.
Sometimes we even need an angel or some other instrument of God to get our attention.
Too often, Christmas becomes a destination to get to by all means and at all costs.
But this epic journey of Biblical proportions we have been on has a different message. The message is that the journey itself is important.
The angel of the Lord gives the message to the shepherds that Christ has been born. This isn’t the end of the journey. There’s still a ways to go. But it also is the beginning of a new journey.
And this one angel will be joined by a “host” of angels to get our attention to what’s next.
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