Christmas Greetings from our DP!
Dear Fellow Members
I’m sure you will be familiar with the opening words of the bidding prayer used at the service of Nine Lessons and Carols: ‘Beloved in Christ, at this Christmas-tide let it be our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.’
Angels pop up in many unexpected places in the Bible and in the lead-up to Christmas they are everywhere. Angels in the Old Testament were entrusted with communicating extraordinary news, often incognito.
In Genesis 18 Abraham welcomes three men who appear out of nowhere and tell him that Sarah his wife would have a son. In Genesis 22 an angel calls to Abraham to tell him he will be blessed because he was prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
In the Gospel of Luke angels are at the high points in the narrative. Zechariah is visited in the Temple by the archangel Gabriel and given news about the birth of a son to his aged wife Elizabeth.
Gabriel also appears to the virgin Mary and tells her she is going to have a son, Jesus, who shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest. An angel also appeared to Joseph telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.
The shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem were visited by an angel telling them of the birth of Christ and by a multitude of angels praising God.
We recall that angels were there too at the Resurrection account in Matthew 28, Mark 16 and Luke 24. But angels are also there in our struggles. Jacob wrestles with an angel in Genesis 32. Jesus is strengthened by an angel as he awaits his arrest in Luke 22.
Angels are never described in detail. As messengers they are often depicted with wings. In life we may only realise much later that a chance visitor has been an angel (messenger) of God. Hebrews reminds us to be vigilant and hospitable: ‘Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.’
May God bless you this Christmas tide and throughout the coming year.
With my love,