As I prepare for Christmas, I’m reading some Scripture. Pretty good idea I think. But I’m not reading in Matthew or Luke. I’m in Hebrews. It is turning out to be much more fitting for Advent than I anticipated.
First, there’s a lot of talk about angels in chapter one, and I’ve never really studied angels in the Bible before. I highly recommend reading Hebrews 1 in conjunction with the angel stories in the Christmas narrative (Matthew 1:20, 2:13, 2:19, Luke 1:11-20, 1:26-38, 2:8-15). Sometimes angels appear in dreams, sometimes in holy places like the temple, and sometimes in everyday places—like a field where shepherds watch their sheep. Sometimes angels appear to “holy” people like Zechariah (and Elijah, Abraham, Peter, and of course, Jesus). Sometimes they appear to “regular” people like shepherds and Mary, and even idiots like Balaam. This gives me hope. Often, angels announce births, especially unexpected ones, like pregnancies for old, barren women, and of course, for a virgin named Mary. I'm kinda hoping I never receive an angel visit like this.
Sometimes these angels appear and leave quickly. Sometimes they stick around long enough to answer questions, but they may get mad about that. Often, they invoke fear, particularly Gabriel (not the image of a sweet cherub).
One thing they all do, as their name means, is relay messages from God. They are “messengers.” That’s who they are and what they do. Hebrews 1:14 also says they’re ministers and servants: Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Now, I’m not angel—not even close. But, my parents did bestow on me the name “Angela,” which comes straight from angelos, the Greek work in these passages of the New Testament for “angel.” That got me to thinking—I wonder if I could be like an angel. Couldn’t I share God’s messages with people? Couldn’t I be a minister sent to serve others? Isn’t that what I try to do?
A few days ago, my son said to me, “I wish you’d been a firefighter, Mom.”
Now, if you know me and what I look like, you may be smiling, chuckling, or laughing right now. I doubt they make fire coats and pants this short, and I wouldn’t be able to stand under all that gear anyway.
I responded to my son, “I’m sorry. That would’ve been cool. I decided to teach people about Jesus instead.”
My son approved of that answer. In fact, he made his dad come into his “classroom” so he could teach him about God and the Bible. Again, if you know his dad, you may be smiling, chuckling, or laughing right now. His dad knows more about the Bible than anyone I know, save seminary professors. But our son doesn’t know that yet, so he went on to teach his dad: This is the Bible. It is God’s words. You have to read it all the time! This is a picture of God making the world…This is Jesus telling those men to let the kids come see him. Jesus loves kids. Jesus loves me. God loves me.”
My son may be well on his way to sharing God’s messages with people himself.