Thursday, December 18, 2014

December 19 - The Holy Angels

The woman went and told her husband,
“A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God,
terrible indeed.
I did not ask where he came from,
nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me,
‘You will be with child and will bear a son…
The boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb.’”
 - Judges 13:6-7

Sacred Scripture and Christian tradition provide us with an understanding of angels that far surpasses our culture's caricature of these divine beings. First, the angels stand before God, giving God honor by virtue of their very existence (cf. Matthew 18:10). Second, angels are messengers, bringing the needs of humanity to God, watching over us: “The Angels speak to man of what constitutes his true being, of what in his life is so often concealed and buried. They bring him back to himself, touching him on God’s behalf.”[1]  The account of the birth of Samson (Judges 13:2-7), the angel’s visit to the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25), and Mary’s encounter with Gabriel at the time of the annunciation (Lk. 1:26-38) are all signs of God’s care and abiding presence with us. And these same angels that stand before God’s throne, stand in front of us. Speaking with God, they speak to us.

The Root of Jesse  by Jeanne Kun
Our God, the God who speaks to us through his messengers, wants us to believe in peace, in love, in him. As Karl Barth said, “Even if we have never seen angels ‘on the right of the incense altar,’ the fire of God can actually burn us, the earthquake of God can still shake us, the flood of God can rush around us, the storm of God actually wants to seize us. Oh, if we could actually hear, if we could but hear this voice that resounds so clearly within us as actually God’s voice. If only we could believe.”[2] 

These days before Christmas are a time of watchful awareness. It is also a time of prophecy and proclamation—a duty that has been entrusted to us, who are called to be angels ourselves.


A Prayer for December 19 + O Radix Jesse
O Root of Jesse, that stands as a sign for the people,
before whom the kings keep silence
and to whom the nations shall make supplication:
come, to deliver us, and tarry not. Amen.

 


[2] Karl Barth, “Lukas 1:5-23,” from Predigten 1917, pp. 423-431 of the original German version; Copyright Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 1999. Transl. Robert J. Sherman. Taken from Watch for the Light, 136-137.

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