Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas and angels

As one studies the details of the Nativity, there are busy angels all through it. Mrs. Eddy defines angels in part as 'God's thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect." As spiritual messages and messengers few angels are identified by name. But there are several archangels and those mentioned in Science and Health are Gabriel and Michael. Mrs. Eddy interprets their purpose in a way that helps me recognize them, even when they are not named. She says Michael's characteristic is spiritual strength, leading the hosts of heaven against the power of the enemy. Gabriel has a different task, he is the bringer of good tidings, the one who assures those in trouble the Love is a very present help.

In the Nativity, Gabriel speaks first with Zacharias and then his wife Elizabeth bringing the good news that despite years of being barren they are to become parents. Their child will be John the Baptist who will be great in the sight of the Lord and filled with the Holy Ghose. John will baptist with water and prepare thought for the Messiah. Once Elizabeth hears this news she hides herself away for five months. Surely to protect this very special thing that has occured.

Gabriel is sent next to Mary to tell her that she is the virgin from the lineage of David who has been chosen to bear the Messiah. This must have been quite a message for Mary to take in. Gabriel tells her what no one else knows, Elizabeth is pregnant, so Mary goes immediately to see her. When she greets her with joy for the news the angel brought, Elizabeth feels the baby move in her womb. Elizabeth seems to also know about Mary's own news, and that must have come from Gabriel as well. Mary stays with her for three months and then goes home.

We continue the Nativity in Matthew where Gabriel appears to Joseph, who must have been a bit surprised to find Mary three months pregnant. He is reassured, but a new wrinkle appears with the tax imposed by Caesar Agustus. They must travel to Bethlehem where Joseph registers to pay the tax. It is in Bethlehem that Gabriel visits with the shepherds keeping watch over their flock at night. He tells them not to be afraid, he is bringing them wonderful news. The long-awaited Messiah has been born!

There is no reason to think Gabriel visited the Magi. They knew of the birth of Messiah by reading the stars. We will get to the star another day. The last mentions of heavenly visitors is when Gabriel returns to tell Joseph that they must flee into Egypt to avoid Herod's murderous decree. Years later, he will let them know it is safe to return and then they go back home to Nazareth.

So can we expect to hear from Gabriel this holiday season? Yes. As you go through the holiday season there will be many times you need that quiet assurance of the presence of divine Love. At family gatherings. When you are feeling frazzled by crowds. As the list of presents you want to give exceeds your budget. Don't think for one minute that the Antichrist is not busy, especially during the Christmas season, to stir up trouble, discontent, and unhappiness. He will use every trick in his book to turn our attention away from the feelings we have for our siblings, our spouses, our parents, our children, our friends, our coworkers, our church.

Although we haven't mentioned him much, this is where Michael comes in. Know that he is ready and willing to fight those battles, to protect you and your feelings, to guard your love for family and friends, to use all the mighty power he has to help you keep Christmas. Thanks to Michael we can feel all of our goodwill to our fellow man.

Go in peace, accompanied by angels.

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