Today’s Advent reflection is by Suzanne Woods Fisher, an award-winning, bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. Suzanne lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Years ago, when I was in college, I interned on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. The basement apartment where I lived was just a few blocks from work—an easy walk though it wasn’t a safe neighborhood. There were lots of burglaries and break ins, even in broad daylight.
One day I noticed a homeless woman on the street corner. I smiled at her and she smiled back. The next day, we chatted. The day after that, late in the afternoon on my way home from work, I invited her in for a cup of tea.
Now, this wasn’t something I normally did. Ever. Not before and not since. I’m still not even sure why I invited her into the apartment. Something just seemed right about it. Minutes after setting the teapot on the stovetop to boil, we heard a crash at the front door. Then another. Someone was trying to kick the door in. The homeless woman bolted from her chair and shouted at the man to stop, but he didn’t hear her. He kept kicking at the panels of the door. One panel started to crack. I was no help—I just stood by the window, watching something terrible unfold, frozen with fear. Suddenly, the young man must have heard the woman’s shouts and realized there was someone in the apartment. He turned and ran up the steps right into two policemen! In the next instant, they were handcuffing him and jamming him into a squad car. In the chaos, the homeless woman slipped away. I never saw her again.
I know what you’re thinking. I know because I’ve had the same thought. Could the homeless woman have been an angel? She was at the right place at the right time. There and then gone. From this side of heaven, I’ll never know.
Most of the information people know about angels comes from television and movies, and most of it is myth or mistaken. Hollywood angels seem to have a longing to be on earth, almost envious of humans. But that’s not what the Bible has to say about angels, and that’s the source we should rely on. The Old Testament mentions angels 108 times and the New Testament refers to angels 165 times. Here are a few basic facts that the Bible reveals about angels:
- The word “angel” actually comes from the Greek word aggelos, which means “messenger.” The matching Hebrew word mal’ak has the same meaning.
- There are an enormous number of angels though the Bible doesn’t give a specific amount (Matthew 26:53; Hebrews 12:22).
- Angels are stronger, have more knowledge, and are more righteous than human beings, but they are not omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipotent (Psalm 103:20, 2 Peter 2:11, 2 Samuel 14:20, Matthew 24:36, Daniel 9:21-23, 10:10-14).
- Angels are spirits rather than physical beings, but can take on the appearance of a human being (Hebrews 13:2). Maybe, just maybe, like the homeless woman I met in Washington D.C. They provide, protect, guide, deliver, strengthen and encourage, and bring messages from God. (1 Kings 19:6, Daniel 3, 6, Matthew 4:11, Matthew 1).
- When people in the Bible saw an angel in full glory in the Bible, their reaction was to fall down in fear and trembling (Matthew 28:2-4).
That brings us to the most famous angel of all—Gabriel, who brought the most significant message of all time to a young woman named Mary:
“Mary, you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever—no end, ever, to his kingdom” (Luke 1:29-33, The Message).
This Christmas, take time to look, really look, at Gabriel’s message to Mary, because it is a message for you, for me, for each one of us. We have nothing to fear because Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, brings everything humankind needs. [Click to tweet!] We have nothing to fear becausein that one word, Emmanuel, the entire plan of God’s salvation is subsumed. We have nothing to fear because heaven is our home, and Jesus will rule his kingdom throughout eternity.
Today’s Advent reflection is by Suzanne Woods Fisher, an award-winning, bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction about the Old Order Amish. Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. Suzanne lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Years ago, when […]