I love Preben’s description of angels for a couple of reasons. One is that it offers each of us the opportunity to be angels – God’s messengers. We are bringing Good News even if we don’t talk about our faith. The other reason is that it gives us a focus for seeing how much good, how much kindness, how much generosity there is in the world. In our Advent worship, we are considering how to restore hope, rebuild peace, reawaken joy and revitalise love. When we reach out to others to do any of these things, we are being angels.
My experience of angels has been slightly different. For me, angels are messengers who suddenly appear and then vanish in my life. They are ordinary human beings whose surprising presence in my life affirms something that I have been struggling with or sends me on another path. I do not see that individual again – they are strangers to me and disappear from my life as quickly as they entered it. My encounters with these messengers have been few and far between. Yet, when they happen, I know, deep down, that they are significant.
The Christmas story is full of encounters with angels. I invite you to take time this Advent to read the first chapter of Luke and chapter 2 to verse 16, and Matthew 1:18 – 25, 2:13 – 23. Notice how the different people react to these encounters – Zechariah, Mary, the shepherds, Joseph. Imagine how you might react if the angel arrived in your home or in your dreams, saying ‘Do not be afraid’.