24 Afterward, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept to herself for five months, saying, 25 “This is the Lord’s doing. He has shown his favor to me by removing my disgrace among other people.” 26 When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, 27 to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!” 29 She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. 31 Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. 33 He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.” 34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?” 35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God.” 38 Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Angels, as the messengers of God, are an important element to the Biblical narratives describing Jesus’ birth. Angels visit both of Jesus’ earthly parents announcing to Mary (Luke 1:24-38) and Joseph (Matthew 1:20-25) that they each have the opportunity to participate in God’s plan to bring the Christ into the world. Through these announcements, the angel has come to symbolize that God co-operates with humanity, giving to humanity an invitation to participate in God’s larger purposes. God does not simply override human will, God invites us to work in the Divine plan and this invitation is direct and personal. The angel was not simply issuing proclamations when speaking to Mary and Joseph. No, the words were directed to each one personally. The angel then should be a reminder that God speaks to us directly and personally. We are not expected to try to adapt generic oracles from God; no, God sends personal messages to those willing to be called God’s servants. This direct message can come to anyone anywhere, as witnessed by the shepherds in Luke 2:8-14. These men were not expecting to hear from God, but God still favored them with a direct message followed by a message for all of humanity.
We should not depart from the symbol of the angel without trying to feel the excitement the angels felt as they proclaimed, “Glory to God in the Highest”; O how wonderful to be an angel proclaiming the news of the first Christmas. Thankfully, the angels remind us that we too, have the opportunity to proclaim God’s message to those who have not yet heard it. The angels do not just symbolize the message from God; they remind us we are given the joy of being the messenger. How great a privilege it is to be able to proclaim the Good News of God to the entire world.
Glorious Lord, thank you for granting me the privilege of singing your praises to the world; grant, O Lord, allow that I might proclaim your Gospel with strength wherever I find myself. Amen.
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