“Live and in person” Advent devotion for December 23, 2020. Read Luke 2:10-14 and Psalm 9.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:12-14)
When Isaiah had his vision of the Lord in his throne room, there were angels flying around, praising him. When John has his visions in Revelation, there are myriads of angels around the throne, praising the Lamb (Rev. 5:11,12). After Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, angels were there to minister to him (Mark 1:12). When the mob came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, he told them he could easily summon twelve legions of angels to help him (Matthew 26:53). In fact, there was one there in the garden to strengthen him through his agonizing prayers (Luke 22:43). So it makes perfect sense for angels to show up when Mary gives birth to her firstborn in Bethlehem and laid him in a manger. Of course they were there. The angels are part of Jesus’ entourage or security detail. They might not always be in sight. But that night they were, and their praise was in high gear!
I wonder what these angels thought of this event. Suddenly, they’re assigned to an infant. Their praises are not heard in a sold-out concert hall, but by a few shepherds out in the Bethlehem hills. Even in this humble setting, he is still the Lord and worthy of their praise.
The angels next big assignment would be at the tomb where the stone has been rolled away and a few friends of Jesus discover that he has been raised from the dead. That’s right, they pretty much only show up for Christmas and Easter! But they always come with big news: the Savior has come and the Savior is back!
Every once in a while, people catch a glimpse of an angel or hear their voice. Their stories are always powerful. They are ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14). The angels are never that far away. But that reminds us that our Lord is never far away, either!
We hear the Christmas angels,
The great glad tidings tell.
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Emmanuel.
Thank you, Lord, for the angels, who lead us in praising you for your birth, your resurrection and your return. Amen.