Summary: The angels gave the Christmas message. Will you deny and doubt, are you uncertain but willing to surrender, are you ready to accept and act, and do you believe and will you broadcast the good news?
The Angels’ Plea for Peace
Rev. Brian Bill
Yesterday I drove up to Milwaukee to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday with my four sisters. One of my sisters had a pretty cool idea a couple weeks ago. She told all of us to order a black t-shirt with the words, “Mom likes me best” written on the front. She thought it would be pretty funny for all of us to wear the same shirt when we walked in the door. I had an even better idea. Instead of going along with her plan, I ordered one that said, “Mom loves me more than my sisters!” I think they wish they never would have had a brother.
In order to celebrate this milestone for my mom, we gave my mom some gifts. Most of our gifts were small but they all represented a memory we’ve had of our mom. For instance, I wrapped up a box of Malt-O-Meal cereal because I used to make hot cereal for breakfast and my sisters would never eat it. The reason is because I would wake up about an hour earlier than they did and by the time they sat down for breakfast their hot cereal was cold and pasty. My mom would get pretty mad at them when they would just stare at the bitter blob in their bowls. I wanted to give my mom a can of pea soup in memory of the time I poured a whole bowl of it on my sister’s head because she refused to eat it. My mom wasn’t too happy with me that day.
I also wanted to give her a box of raisins to mark one of the most memorable moments of my life…I actually almost lost my life over this one. When I was around ten or so I emptied a box of raisins and filled it with rabbit droppings and gave the box to our neighbor boy Craig. Let’s just say I was in big trouble with his mom and my mom. My dad thought it was pretty funny but he kept it to himself. One consequence of this escapade is that I can no longer eat raisins…and now you might not either.
My sweet sisters also gave some goofy gifts but we did it all to celebrate our mom’s birthday. When one contemplates Christmas in our culture, there are some pretty weird things that we do. One Christmas card captures this sentiment: “What other time of the year do you sit around staring at a dead tree in your living room and eat out of your socks?” As we go back to the details surrounding the birth of Jesus, there are some strange, surprising and supernatural elements going on. Ray Pritchard states: “Take the supernatural out of Christianity and all you have left is a religious book club.” A virgin teenager becomes pregnant. A fiancé remains faithful. An 80-mile trip to Bethlehem. A birth in a barn. Shepherds leaving their sheep. A supernatural star. Wise guys traveling across a desert to see a king. Messages through dreams. And angels appearing.
Last week we were impacted by Isaiah’s audacious hope as his prophecies were fulfilled with pinpoint accuracy. Jesus was a sure sign, a sent Son, a shoot from a stump and a suffering Savior. Isaiah reminded us that one can never start too early when getting ready for something really big. On this second Sunday of Advent, our focus today is on the Angels’ Plea for Peace.
While the Christmas story is saturated with the supernatural, some of us miss the meaning because we just skim by this season on a superficial level. I want to suggest that we must see the mysterious and miraculous elements surrounding the birth of Jesus. In his book called, “Rumors of another World,” Philip Yancey writes, “The Bible presents a…view of reality that encompasses both the familiar visible world and an invisible world that coexists as a kind of parallel universe” (Page 165).
Angels appear in more than half of the books of the Bible, with over 300 total references. They have three primary responsibilities.
• They magnify God. The number one job of angels is to adore God. Nehemiah 9:6: “You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” According to Job 38:7, at creation “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.”
• They are messengers of God. The word “angel,” as used in the Bible, literally means messenger. Their job is to do what God sends them to do. Angel messengers basically convey two types of messages. Sometimes it’s good news like announcing the birth of Christ. That Christmas carol “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” captures the fact that angels “herald” or proclaim. But, other times they bring bad news. When they serve in this capacity, they are not cute and cuddly cherub dolls that we put on top of our Christmas trees. 2 Thessalonians 1:7: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” The Book of Revelation is full of avenging angels and it is anything but pretty.