In the Christmas narrative in the gospels, angels appeared at least three times.
The first one was a private appearance to Zachariah that became public immediately (Luke 1:11-17), the second was also private and to Mary (Luke 1:26-38) and it was not disclosed immediately, the third was public and it was acted upon immediately by the shepherds (Luke 2: 8-20).
The angels gave a message to all generations. Zachariah was a senior citizen and old enough to be a grandfather, even though he did not have any children. Mary was a teenager, from a small town. In some quarters there is a tendency to despise young people who aspire for ministerial and missional roles. Mary was obedient to God’s call, even though she did not understand the whole process of redemption. A group of marginalized shepherds – able-bodied, hardworking adults out in the field -saw an angel appearing to them, giving them the first news about the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. Their response was wonderful; they rushed there immediately, worshipped and spread the word to others. They were worshipers and witnesses.
The messages were received in different contexts. Zachariah received the message in the temple in Jerusalem. Mary got the message probably as she did her household chores! Shepherds were at work, keeping vigil to protect their flock. God reaches us in any context.
Zachariah and his son John were given the task of preparation. For Mary, the message was a call to be a partner in the Plan of Redemption. There was a need for a human instrument to fulfil God’s eternal plan. It could be accomplished only by a woman. God’s choice fell on this humble, submissive and available vessel. The shepherds, a marginalized group of people, were called to partake – by worship and witness. God prepared the way for His Son to come, called Mary to be a partner, and invited the shepherds who responded by worshipping and witnessing.
This Christmas season once again reminds us of the basic call for all Christians. We are called to prepare the way for our Lord’s Second Coming. Like Mary, we are His Holy Instruments. As members of the Body of Christ, we are worshipers and witnesses for His Glory like the shepherds.
A season to Prepare, Partner and Partake?
#jnmanokaran #insights #christmasangels
Image: William Blake
by Rev. Dr J.N. Manokaran