The days are getting colder here in Canada. Soon the fluffy, white snowflakes will begin to swirl in the skies above and it’ll be time to cozy up indoors with a good book and my coveted cup of coffee. The hustle and bustle of the holiday season has come way too soon for me… we just pulled out all the Christmas decorations this past weekend! I have a few favourite ones in my stash. All of them are angels. One is a teeny wooden one, given to me by a dear friend in memory of a special little baby. I safely tuck it away every year and cry a new batch of tears when I pull it out again as the memories flood over me. Another is a primitive little crafted thing,with a toilet paper roll for a body and some lace tucked in for a skirt. It was supposed to be “faceless” … but my kids secretly drew a magic-markered-happy-face smile on it because they didn’t think it looked right without features. The final favourite is a beautiful figurine, decked out in eyelet lace with feathery wings and a delicate, china face. I bought it when we were first married at a country fair. There were rumours the vendor was a witch, and perhaps I shouldn’t buy from her, but I didn’t care… it was (and still is!) so pretty. If I had an unlimited budget and didn’t have to dust, my house would be filled with Victorian angels decked out in fine royal purples and regal reds. They are one of my favourite things at Christmas.
Yet, I wonder if my concept of angels is wrong. Have I some how twisted my view of these very special messengers of God? Created to serve Him faithfully forever? Recent polls suggest that a large percentage of North Americans, no matter what their religious backgrounds, have a belief in angels or heavenly beings. Are they truly the chubby, naked little cherubs we imagine all decked out with harps and bows and arrows? Or the Christmas tree toppers adorned with gold ribbons and flowing gowns of crimson? Perhaps we are too casual with our angelic references: “Thanks so much…you’re such an angel for bringing me that… Oh, what a darling, little angel she is…” When the Bible refers to angels, humans tended to bow down in absolute fear (Gen.19:1, Luke 1). Even the Christmas angels who brought the good news to the shepherds caused them to be “terrified”. These heavenly hosts were definitely not the adorable 5-year-olds with make shift tinsel halos hailing “Fear not” in the Children’s Christmas pageant.
That being said, I am thankful that these messengers of God are still so very present in our lives. I have heard countless stories of missionaries narrowly escaping death because “strange groups of men” seemed to be protecting them. I am confident that my children have been protected from harm on more than one occasion because of the prayers of believers around them. Those prayers have sent angels to fight the spiritual battles we all face every day in this fallen world. I am comforted that God still sends His heralds to remind me, like Mary and the shepherds, “not to be afraid”. He has messengers of the good news all around us. We just have to search them out.
The angelic creatures described in the book of Revelation should be an indication to me that God Almighty is in control of all, and that one day the battle will be won. The flaming, sword bearing protectors will vanquish evil on Christ’s behalf and we will enter His gates with thanksgiving and joy.
Can you imagine what it will be like to join voices with the heavenly choir of seraphims and cherubims and cry “Holy, Holy, Holy to the Lord God Almighty”?! Oh, my friend, it is no wonder we admire these creatures who were made for the infinite purpose of praising the One who saves us.
This season, as I pullout my tissue wrapped treasures, and top my tree with the guardians of Heaven, I will be encouraged that “… we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:28,29 NIV)
And when the swirling flakes arrive, and the busyness of the season preoccupies my time, and I am flustered with all the preparations that need to be done, I pray that I will be able to look at that magic marker smile of the “toilet paper roll angel” sitting on the shelf, and be reminded to “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:1,2 NIV)