Summary: An advent perspective on the message of the angel to Joseph, Mary and the Shepherds.

The Christmas Angel

Matthew 1.18-25 December 10, 2000

The birth of Jesus took place like this.

His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph.

Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.)

Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream:

“Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married.

Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus —‘God saves’— because he will save his people from their sins.”

This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term: “Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; They will name him Emmanuel”

(Hebrew for “God is with us”).

Then Joseph woke up.

He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream:

He married Mary.

But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

(The Message New Testament)

If someone came to you insisting that events and conditions were such that you needed to make a change in your life; and if that person were an angel in the middle of the night, would you be apt to make that change?

Or would you be more like the woman who was bitten by a rabid dog, and it looked like she was going to die from rabies. The doctor told her to put her final affairs in order. So the woman took pen and paper, and began writing furiously. In fact she wrote and wrote and wrote. Finally the doctor said, "That sure is a long will you’re making." She snorted, "Will, nothing! I’m making a list of all the people I’m going to bite!"

If I were the angelic messenger of the Christmas story, asking people like Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and all the generations of all ages to change, to be different because of my message; well, there are some things you would want to know about me and my message.

You probably would want to know who it is that I represent; whose message is it? And who is to receive the message? And what is the message all about? And how shall I respond?

The word "an.gel.os" (angel) comes from a basic word that means "message-bearer". An angel is the messenger from God who brought Good News, God’s message. It is hard to ignore angels. A man told about when his mother died, the family gathered at the funeral home. Some of (the family) had been trying to explain to (the) 5-year-old why his grandmother’s body was still with us, but her spirit had gone to be with God in heaven.

The time drew near for the funeral home to close. In the stillness, we suddenly heard footsteps running back and forth across the floor above us. Despite our sadness, we all had to laugh when my son burst out excitedly, Daddy! The angels are coming for Grandma!

The Christmas Angel represents God. The angel announced to Joseph the activity of God’s Holy Spirit in coming to overshadow Mary, implanting within her the child, our Savior. That activity connected man and God together, and that is Good News. The Sound of the Christmas Angel is a chorus of Good News! How indeed is this such good news? The answer lies in a two-fold perspective.

It is God’s Message

God is the Creator, Provider, and Sustainer of all life. His nature is love and truth. Anything that He has to say is worth our attention.

It is God’s Message We Can Receive

The gospel accounts tell us Joseph was an average fellow, an underachiever at best, who died young. Mary was an unmarried, pregnant teenager.

What kind of trouble was Mary in? As a teen (in that culture), she certainly was not old enough to speak for herself - she belonged to her father; As a female, she had no rights in that male-dominated society; As a pregnant, engaged teen, she was at least apparently guilty of misconduct, serious enough to call for the death penalty.

The message was also directed to shepherds -- socially, and religiously unacceptable smelly shepherds. I have been around sheep. They are cute in pictures. They are defenseless and totally without aggression. But they stink! And those who lived with sheep (as the saying goes) get up with a distinctive air about them!

To the least successful of Earth’s inhabitants came the sound of the Christmas angel, a song of Good News.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

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