From the readings for today, you might think that we are like the retail stores around us…trying to get an early start on Christmas. Indeed, these are some of the classic pre-Christmas and Christmas Bible texts. Regardless of the time of year, it is always appropriate to remind ourselves of the truths surrounding the coming of Christ and John the Baptist into the world.
But, while keeping those realities in mind, there is yet another purpose for selecting the passages we did. We want to point out an important aspect of the ministry of angels. Their work, you see, has been more than that of only worshiping God (as all-important as that is). In addition, some have served as messengers of God. Angels have had the privilege of carrying news from God to select individuals or groups.
Old Zechariah was one of those individuals. While others waited outside wondering why he was taking so burning incense in the temple, he encountered an angel. To be honest, the angel scared the begeebers out of him. It wasn’t every day that people saw these created beings. And, for him, it was the first time. But the message the angel brought was one of encouragement and hope. He and his aged, barren wife would bear a son, who would be the forerunner for Jesus.
Just a few months later, a young girl named Mary had a similar encounter. To her, the angel also announced the fact that she too would give birth. He told her that this birth would be different. The Spirit of God would enable her as a virgin to conceive. This baby would be the incarnate Son of God!
Though you probably didn’t read it today, you could also turn to Matthew 1:18-25 to discover that Joseph also heard from an angelic messenger. This angel assured Joseph of Mary’s purity and informed him of the child’s identity.
While I am not sure that I have ever personally experienced that, I celebrate the fact that others have. With the completion of the word of God, the 66 books of the Bible, and with the coming of Christ, I suppose that the Father’s need to use angelic beings in this manner is diminished. Still, throughout history, angels have served as a mouthpiece for the Father.