2016: Page 359

Page 359 is Christmas Eve and has been a fairly laid-back Saturday.  It was rather overcast and gloomy outside throughout the day, so there wasn’t any real pull toward going out and doing anything.  The morning was spent sleeping, going through social media posts, playing some Wii games, and prepping for tomorrow’s sermon.  We went out to Subway for lunch and then the afternoon was mostly a repeat of the morning.  The evening included a Christmas Eve service at church then after supper we gathered around the Christmas tree as Susan opened her Christmas gifts.  

Watching Susan’s excitement was fun and after she was finished unwrapping her gifts I played with different camera settings as I photographed some of the ornaments on the tree.  At the top of the tree is an angel tree topper that has held that position for a lot of years.  In fact, it has been on the top of our Christmas tree for so long that I can’t remember if we ever had anything before it or if it has been our only tree top ornament.  For Susan, the tree isn’t complete until the angel goes on the top.  I suppose that shouldn’t be too surprising given that she sees angels, talks with angels, and her favorite past-time is watching reruns of the old “Touched By An Angel” series.  

Based on the reactions of people in the Bible who encountered angels, I would say our pleasant representations of them are not very realistic.  I do wonder at times if it was always the appearance of the angel that frightened those who saw them, or if sometimes the fear had more to do with the knowledge that God was sending a message directed toward them.  Yes, at times the Bible describes the actions of angels that would make it appear they can be fierce warriors as they single-handedly destroy entire enemy armies.  Yet I also believe that if an angel appeared to me in a way that left no doubt it was an angel, even if its appearance was as pleasant as the one on my Christmas tree, I would be filled with a fear simply knowing that God was sending a messenger directly to me.  

As I worked on the sermon I’ll share tomorrow, I thought about the angel’s words to Mary, “Do not be afraid.”  Whether it was the physical features of the angel that were frightening or a fear caused simply because an angel appeared, the message from God had the power to change the initial fear into a response of “I am the Lord’s servant.”  God’s message to us continues to have an element of fear in it because it warns of the consequences of our not choosing Him.  Yet that fear can become a good thing when it creates a submissive response from us that mirrors the response Mary gave.

I pray that you and I would understand that the key to “keeping Christ in Christmas” is for each believer to “keep Christ in the Christian”.  I pray that we would celebrate the presence of Jesus in our lives each day that we live.  I pray that we would act as faithful representatives of Christ to all people.  I pray that we would accept God’s message to us with a willing response that we are His servant.