If you’ve been with me since the first day of Advent, you know that Mary, Joseph, and even a few animals are now waiting in our stable. Since he’s already made a couple of appearances, the angel should be next.
Our famous Christmas angel, Gabriel, appeared long before Jesus’ birth in the Old Testament book of Daniel:
And I (Daniel) heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” So he came near where I stood. And when he came, I was frightened and fell on my face.Daniel 8:15-17
Also known as “the angel of the Lord”, Gabriel later appeared to Zechariah and foretold the birth of John the Baptist, Jesus’ older cousin:
And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him…Luke 1:11
And *spoiler alert* don’t forget about the angel of the Lord and the heavenly host who brought the Good News to the shepherds after Jesus’ birth:
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.Luke 2: 9-10
If a powerful, human/not-human creature showed up in my church/room/field, I would also be very afraid, to say the least. But this infantile angel figure is giving me a different vibe.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve rebranded angels to be more like us, only sweeter. Cue the floating clouds and harps …
Modern humans, especially Americans, like to feel in control of our lives, and we’re quick to change or discard what makes us uneasy. Photoshop, Instagram filters, and our widespread cancel culture are other easy examples. Also as evidence, I present my light-skinned nativity figures, which are supposed to represent people of middle-eastern descent. Editing and canceling have become so natural to us that that we hardly notice it.
Though it’s hard to admit, we give God and His Story the same treatment. Our limited, human brains can’t imagine anger or jealousy in the absence of sin, so we pretend God is neither. Some can’t wrap their minds around the idea of a perfect Father, so God becomes “the old man upstairs”. Silence makes us nervous, so we fill in God’s gaps with what we want to hear. Eventually, we’re left with someone more relatable, predictable, and less like a god.
We don’t need to look around or within very long to see this isn’t working so well for us. Clearly, we need much more than a better version of ourselves. We need Someone completely different.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.Isaiah 55:9
Everything God’s done and every angel He’s sent is for the purpose of us become more like Him, not the other way around. It’s His way of assimilating us into His Kingdom. He certainly won’t fit into ours.
If I’m honest, that plan scares me a bit. It involves change, mystery, and sacrifice. But something deep inside me agrees it’s good news.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.Luke 2:10-11
I’m placing my cute-but-inaccurate angel figure in my nativity today. This Advent, he’ll serve as a gentle reminder that there is hope for fearful manipulators like me.
Friend, it’s the perfect year to revisit God and His Word with fresh eyes. Let’s read, receive, and resist the urge to add our personal touches. Don’t turn away. It’s all good.
P.S. Want to get caught up on this series? Click HERE.