Thought for the Day by Elizabeth Pearson (St Chad’s)
Angels : A Message of the Good News
Angels are a powerful link between heaven and earth; a symbol of God’s humanity on earth, as well as his divinity. Here is a photo from the East Window of St Chad’s Church – Redemption of Creation. There are two images; the angel of the warmer parts of the earth, and the angel of the colder parts of the earth. The stained glass artist is Margaret Rope, and the photo was taken in 2013 by Arthur Rope, her nephew.
For our theme of ‘God with us’ in our communities, we will look at the angels featured in the Christmas story.
Firstly, the Angel Gabriel greets Zacharias in the temple to tell him that his prayer has been answered for his wife Elizabeth will bear him a son, and be called ‘John’. Although Zacharias had been highly favoured when Gabriel visits him in the temple, it was frightening, and Zacharias’ doubt at this happening because they were both elderly results in him being struck dumb, and not being able to speak until the day it becomes true. It also caused the group waiting outside the temple while Zacharias carried out his daily ritual to be fearful and question their beliefs, as they knew he had seen a vision in the temple.
Later, the Angel Gabriel visits Mary, and tells her that she is highly favoured and will conceive a son called Jesus, who will be called the ‘son of the highest’. Mary rejoiced and praised God and said ‘My soul doth magnify the Lord’ and first spoke the beautiful words of the Magnificat. Mary goes on to accept what the angel has told her, with quiet assurance.
An angel later visits Joseph in a dream to tell him to take Jesus and his mother and flee Jerusalem into Egypt, to escape Herod who was trying to destroy him. The very next day, Joseph took the child and Mary by night and remained in Egypt until the death of Herod. This prevented Jesus’ destruction from Herod’s ruling that all the children born under two years old in Bethlehem should be killed. The angel appeared again once it was safe and told Joseph to go to Israel, where Jesus’ destiny could be fulfilled.
Finally, at the time of the birth of Jesus, shepherds in the fields at night saw angels in the sky over Bethlehem and glory shone around. The angel said;
‘Fear not, behold for I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you. For you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’
The shepherds praised God and travelled to see Mary, Joseph and the baby, with great haste.
Jesus is fully God and fully human, and because Jesus became human, all humanity has been blessed by God. God loves all of us, no matter who we are, or where we are from. Angels are therefore an important part of the mystery and fulfilment of the message of the Good News.