“O Little Town of Bethlehem” tells us, “While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.” The angels are up all night; their watchful care never ceases. For the angels seem to dwell in some borderland between earth and heaven. In Jacob’s dream, they ascend and descend between earth and heaven. So it is no surprise that at the most important moments in God’s story, they are there. Early in Jesus’ story, the angels are busy, announcing the pregnancy to Mary, calming Joseph in a dream, singing for the shepherds, and warning Joseph to get his family out of Bethlehem. After Jesus’ death, they guard his tomb’s entrance and declare, “He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5). Angels bookend Jesus’ story—they are the first witnesses to the Incarnation and Resurrection.
—James C. Howell, Why This Jubilee? Advent Reflections on Songs of the Season (Upper Room Books, 2015)
Which Christmas story about angelic messengers is most meaningful to you? Join the conversation.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
—Luke 1:26-27 (NRSV)
Prayer for the Week
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.
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(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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