Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
Luke 2:14 (NIV)
Decorating our family Christmas tree is one of my all-time favorite things. First we wrap all the lights on the tree, then cover it with ornaments that have been collected during the last 29 years. The final act – placing the angel on the top branch – completes the tree trimming ritual. Only moments before the tree had somehow appeared incomplete, as if something important was missing. But with the angel in place, the house is finally ready for Christmas.
Angelic beings played a significant role in the events of the Nativity. Without their involvement, there would be a hole in the story – incomplete as an unfinished Christmas tree. Derived from the Greek term “angelos” and defined as “a messenger, envoy, one who is sent,” this is exactly what angels often are seen doing in the pages of the Holy Scripture.
The first angel we encounter in the Christmas account is Gabriel, an archangel. Gabriel visits planet earth to inform the principal players, and, ultimately, the world that the “fullness of time” has come – that long-awaited moment in history when the promised Messiah will arrive (Galatians 4:4). Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, an aged, childless priest, declaring that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a son, the forerunner of Messiah, John the Baptist. Six months later, Gabriel came to the village of Nazareth to give a message from God to a young woman named Mary. She had been selected for the role that had long been the desire of Jewish women: the privilege of giving birth to the promised Messiah. Following his visit to Mary, Gabriel also visited her husband-to-be, Joseph, and gave him the same message. Nine months later, the angel of the Lord returned with yet another message; this time in the Judean skies over the shepherds' fields of Bethlehem with a dramatic message of arrival. (Luke 1-2)
Up to this point in the Christmas story the angels have served as God’s messengers. Now they assemble in a glorious mass choir to celebrate Christ’s invasion of the broken planet that is the object of His eternal love. Announcing the arrival of the Son of God in human form the heavenly host can remain silent no longer. They raise their voices in exaltation of God for His glory, for His Son, and for His plan to rescue the lost, tired and confused race of men and women: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.” The shepherds heard the angels affirm the glory of God and announce that Christ had come to offer peace with God to a race in rebellion against Him. This peace is not simply the absence of conflict. It is the presence of the Christ who is described by the prophet Isaiah as the “Prince of Peace.”
During the next thirty-plus years, the angels would continue to be involved in Christ’s ministry: exalting Him in His birth, ministering to Him in His life, supporting Him in His anguish, announcing Him in His resurrection. All because He chose to express His inexpressible love in such a mysterious and wonderful way and pour it out on His wayward creation. If the angels, who can only observe redeeming love but never experience it, exalt the Christ for His grace, how much more should adoration of the Savior drive the hearts and passions of men and women who have been granted this great grace!
The hope of peace, the longing for glory, the gift of Jesus. May we, with grateful hearts, join in the exaltation of the Christ. God’s glorious gift to us!
Blessings and Merry Christmas!
Source: Windows on Christmas