December 12, 2010

Luke 1:46-55

“Angels Whisper. We Sing Out Loud.”
Note: This short reflection followed the church school Christmas presentation “Christmas Eve in Angel School.”

There sure were a lot of angels in this year’s Christmas play! Angels have always been an important part of the Christmas story. They are the ultimate messengers from God…

explaining to the young Mary what’s going to happen to her, how she’s going to have a child who will be the Messiah…

convincing Joseph to marry her and to be a father to the child who will be called Jesus…

and appearing to the scared shepherds in the fields, telling them the good news about the baby who has been born, and directing them to go and worship him.

Without the angel messengers, the story would barely hang together. Mary would be confused by the surprise pregnancy. Joseph would likely leave her. And the shepherds would miss the excitement altogether. Without the angels’ announcements, much of God’s activity would have gone unnoticed.

But like one of the angels in the play pointed out, God doesn’t let the angels appear in the sky singing glorias anymore. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean that God’s messengers aren’t busy delivering messages of good news and grace and hope to the people of the world.

When I think about the angel in the play leaning down to whisper in the ear of the little boy, I start to think about all the ways that God (or God’s angels) have whispered words of encouragement, or consolation, or direction in my ear.

You can do it, I have blessed you, and I will help you to be my servant.

All will be well. I am with you, and I love you.

Wait! Stop! Check your priorities. Follow me.

I hear the whispers when I’m paying attention… when I’m reading the scriptures, and when I’m listening carefully for God’s voice. Sometimes I hear the whispers through the voices of other people. Sometimes I hear them in the words of a hymn or through the reflections of another preacher. But without a doubt, God’s angels are just as busy today as they were 2000 years ago sending messages from God to me, and to you, and to anyone who will listen.

The author of Luke’s Gospel describes an elaborate dialogue between Mary and the angel Gabriel when the messenger comes to tell her about the child she is going to have. But, of course, there was no one else there to witness the conversation. Did she see a figure? Did she hear a voice? Did she sense a presence with her?

God’s message to Mary might have been like a whisper that only her heart could hear. But she heard it, and she responded with faith and trust, and the willingness to let God use her and her family to bless her people and all the people of the world.

And then Mary sang. She sang because she knew that God was blessing her. She sang because God was using her to bring light and love and hope into the world. She sang because God was going to help her oppressed people. She sang because she believed that good things were going to happen. She sang because God’s promises were going to be fulfilled.

Perhaps this Christmas, some of us would like to be a little more like the angels. We would like to give gifts of encouragement. We would like to whisper words of comfort and love to those who are sad, or lonely, or struggling.

But I would like to be a little more like Mary this Christmas. I want to open my ears so that I can hear the whispers of the angels. And I want to embrace whatever role God has ready for me in bringing the light of Christ into the world this year. I want to recognize, as Mary did, that although God’s call brings challenges, I am deeply, deeply blessed. And I want my life to be a blessing to the world… as I participate with God in lifting up the lowly and filling the hungry with good things.

Like the angels on that first Christmas night, and like Mary as she prepared to welcome her first child, I want to sing out loud this Christmas, and I want to invite each and every one of you to join in the song:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour…

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to all people.

May our voices join with all God’s angels, and may every ear and every heart hear the good news… that God has come to us in Jesus the Christ. God has come bringing hope and peace and joy and love for all people. Amen.