Thursday, December 15, 2016

Have You Seen the Angels? Part 3

All day, all night,
Angels watching over me, my Lord.
All Night, all day,
Angels watching over me.”

A little boy rushed into his kindergarten class one morning and made the following announcement:
My mother just had a baby, and it was born too soon, so they put it in a percolator.
It could never be said that the Baby Jesus was born too soon (or too late, for that matter). He was born, after all, right on schedule, in God's good time. It might be said, however, that right from the start, God put Him in a percolator.
...Even before he was delivered by Mary, she carried Him in her womb on a long, difficult, dangerous journey to Bethlehem.
...He was born under extremely adverse circumstances in a place designed to accommodate animals, not human beings.
...Shortly after His birth, He was targeted by King Herod for assassination.
...Then, in order to protect Him from the king's wrath, Mary and Joseph had to take their new born Babe on still another long, difficult, dangerous journey, into Egypt.
...This was followed by still another tedious trip back to Israel, after the death of King Herod.
When Jesus entered this "percolator" world, He needed protection. And the New Testament writers tell us how angels were assigned to keep Him safe and sound.

Little did Joseph know Mary's baby was in danger from the time of his conception. The huge red dragon of Revelation 12 was waiting and ready to destroy Jesus. Enter the guardian angels who stood watch over the child from the beginning. Hence we find angels again journeying to Nazareth. This time to reassure Joseph that all was well; to be sure an earthly father was in place to protect and care for the Holy Child. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived.
Mat 1:21 She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus---because he will save his people from their sins." It was to be a perilous journey, fraught with danger every step of the way. When Herod tried to use the Magi to locate the child, Angels interceded, and sent them home by a different way. When Herod, in his anger at being tricked, determined to destroy the Child by killing all the males under two years old and around Bethlehem, a guardian angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up! Hurry and take the child and his mother to Egypt! Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is looking for the child and wants to kill him."
Mat 2:14 That night, Joseph got up and took his wife and the child to Egypt. Even after Herod died,and Joseph, was given the all clear by the angel, the family didn't return to Bethlehem, but to the remote village of Nazareth in distant Galilee; a move quite likely coached by the angels.

The fact that the child, Jesus, needed guardian angles speaks to his importance in God's plan. Yes, he was to die, but not yet. Still, trying to obstruct God's plan, Satan and his minions went after the child with a vengeance. Unable to convince Joseph to divorce Mary, bringing shame and shunning on her and her child, he used Herod's fear of loosing power to try to kill the infant. Never, in all history, was one infant the center of so much struggle. Without the angles to give warning, and Joseph to heed and obey, the story would certainly ended differently.

Like the Christ child, all of us need a bit of protection from time to time. I'm not certain if we all have heavenly guardian angels or non; theological scholars come down on both sides of the issue. But this I believe: Just as God surrounded Jesus with an army of angels. Some are heavenly, some are human.
All are here to help us and protect us. Fay is convinced that our friend Peggy is a guardian angel. When she had a difficult time bringing her mother back from sister's. It was Peggy who not only helped with transportation, but protected Fay from her Aunt.

Often times God sends people we don't know to help us. The story is told of a woman who came rushing into a beauty parlor asking:”Does anyone here know how to stop the hiccups? to the sink,
What is the matter with you!” the woman shouted as she jumped from the chair, “Are you crazy​?”
You don't have the hiccups any more, do you?” the stylist smiled.
I didn't have the hiccups when I came in.” the indignant woman snorted. My mother is sitting out in the car very upset because she has a stubborn case of hiccups. Perhaps you'd step outside and slap her.”
And then there are those times we don't really want an angel. The busy Christmas shopping season was in full swing. A little boy was standing in the middle of the aisle of one of the large department stores and he was crying, "I want my mommy!" As people would go by they would say, "There, there, little boy. Your Mama will find you." And a number of them had given him pocket change to help assuage his tears. But he kept sobbing, with tears running down his cheeks. Finally someone from the department store came along and said, "I know where your mommy is, son." And the little boy looked up and responded, "So do I, just keep quiet."

Did you ever wonder where are the angels when you do need them? In a Bill Keene Family Circus comic strip, Billy comes into the house all tattered and torn. He looks like he's been in a wreck and then a fight and then drug for a mile or two by a team of runaway horses. He asks: "Do guardian angels take days off?" No. God's presence is always with us, we are never alone, even when there is no one around. A little boy was eagerly looking forward to the birthday party of a friend who lived only a few blocks away. When the day finally arrived, a blizzard made the sidewalks and roads nearly impassable. The lad's father, sensing the danger, hesitated to let his son go. The youngster reacted tearfully. "But Dad," he pleaded, "all the other kids will be there. Their parents are letting them go." The father thought for a moment, then replied softly, "All right, you may go." Surprised but overjoyed, the boy bundled up and plunged into the raging storm. The driving snow made visibility almost impossible, and it took him more than half an hour to trudge the short distance to the party. As he rang the doorbell, he turned briefly to look out into the storm. His eye caught the shadow of a retreating figure. It was his father. He had followed his son's every step to make sure he arrived safely.
That is how God watches over us.

From before his birth to the time of his death, resurrection, and ascension, God surrounded Jesus with protection and care. In baptism we are raised with Christ, and Christ himself promises us in John 10: “My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me,
and I give them eternal life, so that they will never be lost. No one can snatch them out of my hand.
My Father gave them to me, and he is greater than all others. No one can snatch them from his hands,”

Like Jesus, we are surrounded and protected by God's Holy Spirit. We are His, and He is ours. May your Advent be blessed with the sight of angels.

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