On the Wings of God’s Angels


In Brief

  • Angels were created by God to attend to the work and the person of Jesus Christ.
  • Angels are most often invisible to human eyes.
  • Scripture portrays angelic visitations as stunning occurrences.

The Annuciation, Eustache Le Sueur, 17th century

The angel Gabriel appears to a young girl to tell her she will be the mother of God’s Son. Nine months later the darkness is overcome as the angel choir of heaven announces to shepherds that God’s salvation has come to all mankind in the birth of His Son as a baby in Bethlehem.

The greatest good news to come to all mankind, that God in His mercy was sending Jesus to be the Savior of the world, comes on the wings of God’s angels. This is not the work of cherubic figures with harp and bow, but the majestic work given to God’s mighty messengers.

A messenger is “one who is sent” to speak on behalf of another or “one who is sent” to perform a deed or action on behalf of another. From humanity’s point of view, angels are indeed God’s agents, sent from God’s side to do His will and service among us. Besides describing the function of the angels, the Greek word for messenger becomes the English name for them. The psalm writer speaks of the character and heavenly activity of angels:

Praise the Lord, you His messengers,

you mighty ones who do His bidding,

who obey His word.

Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts,

you His servants who do His will. (Psalm 103.20, 21. Also Psalm 148.2)

These messengers are the angels of God, charged with the care of men (Psalm 91). Created at the dawn of time, the angels have witnessed every action of God on mankind’s behalf and every era of our existence. As the true and loyal messengers of God, angels always act as an extension of His will and affection toward humanity.

Angels have no physical form; they are not flesh and blood. The Bible indicates, that angels are most often invisible to human eyes. However, God allows His messengers to appear visibly to aid in their contacts with the human race. When visible, the angel is described as having the appearance of a man. (Read Genesis 18.1-2 and Genesis 19.1-5 as two examples of Scripture’s description of angels.) The visible appearance of angels is so strongly associated with normal human form and appearance that the writer of Hebrews states that they can even be entertained as strangers, “without [anyone] knowing it” (NIV Heb 13.12). And yet, Abraham, Jacob, Daniel, Zechariah, Mary, and others had no problem recognizing God’s angels.

Scripture also portrays angelic visitations as stunning occurrences. In most instances when appearing visibly, angels are so glorious and impressively beautiful as to stun, amaze even terrify those who witness their presence. Read again the magnificent account of the resurrection in Matthew 28. Matthew describes the angel who rolled the stone away from Christ’s tomb as dressed in a white garment that shone like a flash of brilliant lightning. Notice the effect the angel had on those who witnessed him: “And for fear of him the guards trembled and became as dead men” (ESV).

The angels were created by God to attend to the work and the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. On the first Christmas, the infant Jesus was born into the world of man for our redemption. While glorious and remarkable, it is not surprising that an entire heavenly choir of angels appears on that night to sing: “Glory to the newborn king; Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.”

Sexagesima


The propers for Sexagesima emphasize the warning against trusting in anything that we do. The spirit of self-seeking, or of self-trust, or of self-righteousness will taint our sacrifice and render it unacceptable, for the sacrifice of self must be offered to God and not to self. (Sermon and the Propers, II:27)

Lord, Jesus Christ, when the time had come for you to lay down your life for our sins, you went willingly to Jerusalem even though you knew deat awaited you there. As our sin-bearer you walked the way of suffering and sorrow. That you willingly paid the price of our transgressions fills us with great joy and gratitude. Through the Holy Spirit help us meditat with faith-filled hearts upon all you, as our Substitute, endured for our salvation even as we confess you as our perfect and precious Savior. Bring us to faithful and complete trust in this completed work that we rely upon you alone for our salvation. May our humble appreciation of your cross cause us to grow in faith toward you and in service and love toward our neighbor, and in willing obedience to your Word. Amen.

Time of Christmas — Advent


Advent in the first season in the TIME OF CHRISTMAS. The calendar of the Church begins with Advent (from Latin adventus, which means “coming into”), a four-week period of preparation before Christmas.The Savior’s birth is second in importance only to His resurrection on Easter Sunday. During Christmas and its season, Christians take time to reflect on God’s great and gracious gift of Himself.

Advent begins the fourth Sunday before December 25, or the Sunday closest to St. Andrew (November 30), and ends with midday prayer on December 24.

The story of Jesus in Advent is the story of hope coming into the world. When the time was just right, God sent His Son, Jesus, into the world. The Advent season teaches us to prepare to receive Jesus, the hope of the world.

The liturgical color for Advent is violet (when using the 1-year lectionary) or blue (when following one of the 3-year lectionaries). Continue reading

The Nativity of Our Lord and Christmastide


The season of Christmas begins with evening prayer on Christmas Eve (December 24) with the first celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord, and ends with midday prayer on January 5.

The evening services of Christmas Eve mark the beginning of the Church’s celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord. The season continues after December 25 over a period traditionally known as the twelve days of Christmas or Christmastide.

This season includes a number of lesser festivals: The festival of St. Stephen, the first martyr, occurs on December 26. St. John, apostle and evangelist, is remembered on December 27. The death of the babies in Bethlehem (Matthew 2) is observed on December 28 as the Festival of the Holy Innocents. The circumcision and naming of Jesus on the eighth day after His birth (Luke 2:21) is celebrated on January 1.

The liturgical color for Christmas and Christmas tide is white. Continue reading