And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host,... Luke 2:13a
I am the third angel on the left singing to the shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. “Abiding in the field” sounds so Biblical.
Angels are everywhere during the Christmas season, on our lapels as pins, hanging in wreaths or from tree branches, holding up their end in the Nativities I love so much. Angels are important characters in the Christmas story.
Let us remember that in Matthew’s Gospel, it is an angel of the Lord who appears to Joseph in a dream to reassure him to do the right thing by Mary. An angel tells Joseph in a dream to gather up his small family and flee to Egypt. That angel gets right back to Joseph after Herod’s death to say, “go back.” In another dream the angel advises Joseph to avoid Judea and go to Nazareth in Galilee. That is one busy angel!
The Gospel of Luke tells us that an angel speaks to Zechariah who doubts the information he has just been given. The angel Gabriel gets a bit touchy and informs Zechariah that he, Gabriel, stands in the presence of God and because of his doubt, Zechariah will be mute until certain events occur. Later, Gabriel announces to Mary that she will have a son. Mary, bless her heart, responds with wonder and then accepts God’s will.
An angel of the Lord announces to the shepherds that the Messiah is born. Then the angels pull out all the stops! From that single angel being reassuring and reasonable, the heavens fill with a multitude of the heavenly host glorifying God. Never have any angels had such a glorious message to deliver! The Gospel of John says it best: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” In Luke’s narrative the excitement bursts forth: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
I know. I was there. Third angel on the left.
Prayer: We turn to you, O God, in this holy season. We thank you for so many blessings, including the gift of your only son, our Lord. All Glory to God. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
About the Contributor
Winnie Walsh is an Elder and the church archivist. She was co-chair of this year’s 175th anniversary celebration of First Presbyterian Church.