Hark! Angels at Christmas?
12/4/2016 11:26:33 PM
Why are angels so popular ... especially at Christmas?
Hark! Angels at Christmas? Christmas, 2016.
Luke 1.26-56: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%201%3A26-56&version=NKJV&interface=print
Today's meditation: Luke 1.37 - Nothing is impossible with God.
People love angels, especially women. We like to display angels’ wings in our homes, and talk about guardian angels for our children; gift stores sell out all things angel, oft with folks not even linking angels to the God who created them. But at Christmas time, angels are especially prevalent, and so they should be—
angels played a huge role in announcing Jesus’ coming and his birth.
Let’s go back and look: the angel Gabriel visits a young virgin named Mary and says, "Ave, Maria!" (which in Latin means ‘Greetings, Mary.)’ 'You are going to have a son--a holy son. You are highly esteemed by God, and this is how it will happen. . .’
'But how could this be?' Mary asks, looking at Gabriel with wide eyes. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Mary soulfully responds, "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said." So very young, and already so full of faith, Mary trusts God's goodness. She does not have many answers about what is ahead, and knows it is sure to be fraught with difficulties. . . yet she believes, she trusts.
[It reminds me of Jesus' later words, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20.29) I wonder if I would have submitted as easily as Mary. . . would you?]
Gabriel’s announcement to Mary of the Messiah's coming birth means the fulfillment of a prophecy written by the prophet Isaiah about 700 years earlier... seven hundred years. "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7.14) This was just one of 61 major prophecies about Jesus, which Jesus fulfills to the letter. Our Lord's birth was miraculous, and exact details had been revealed hundreds of years before, which is even more miraculous.
When the angel Gabriel comes to call on Mary, she is at home in Nazareth. The site of Mary’s Nazarene home has been excavated and preserved, while overhead a magnificent church has been erected—the Basilica of the Annunciation.
If you look at the center of this picture I took two weeks ago, you can see the excavated wall of Mary’s tiny home—just incredible.
Nazareth was not a planned stop on my recent trip to Israel because of the traffic-filled route and the time it takes to get to the town, but I just had to see the town of Jesus’ youth! So . . . I got a cab outside of my Tiberius hotel, and took along my friend Laura to make the trek to see it. Travelling through a number of Arab communities, eventually the road winds up a hill and then down and around into central Nazareth where Mary’s home had been. If nothing else, seeing the geography and setting is so valuable in considering life 2,000+ years ago. Seeing the excavated home of my Lord’s mother makes an indelible impression, and secures the biblical record to a very real location.
When Gabriel visits Mary, agricultural Nazareth is probably a town of about 500, but now it is a modern, primarily Arab city of steeples and domes and commercialism. It is home to the largest Arab community in Israel, (both Muslim and Christian), with a secondary, smaller Jewish community in nearby, newer Upper Nazareth.& It was the first place I heard the Muslim call to prayer as we drove into town, followed by church bells – such a strange juxtaposition. Neither would have been there in Mary’s day.
Back to the angel Gabriel ~ his concluding comment to Mary was powerful then, and equally powerful today: Nothing is impossible with God.
So, if truly nothing is impossible with God, with what do you need to trust Him? Have you given up on something because you grew weary? What task have you felt 'called to' but it just seems--well, impossible?! What is the mountain that you just can't get over, can't get around or can't get through? What are the impossible odds you are facing? Take heart! Nothing is impossible with God, the angel Gabriel tells us. Sweet Mary believed it … the question is, do you?
& – Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/visiting-modern-day-nazareth-no-longer-in-biblical-times/2015/01/22/8a8a8468-92c6-11e4-ba53-a477d66580ed_story.html?utm_term=.836356ef086e