Pastor’s pondering

How many of you are expecting some visitors for the holidays this year?  Perhaps children, grandchildren, parents, or some other loved one.  Perhaps some co-workers, neighbors, or just dear friends.  Coming by to chat, exchange some gifts, or just trading a special food item, all as a sign of the connections that we share.  In any case, these are treasured moments.  Yet, what about those unexpected visitors?  Those people who just appear out of the blue with no notice or even idea that you may encounter one another?  I know some may seem a nuisance, but most are even more treasured because they help us reconnect in ways that we hadn’t previously been able to do.

            The events of the Christmas story also have the appearance of some unexpected visitors – angels.  They appear to Joseph (Matt 1:20-22), Mary (Lk 1:26-38), and the shepherds (Lk 2:8-14).  They bring surprising news, reminders of past events, bold proclamations for the future, and “good tidings of great joy” (Lk 2:10, NKJV).  They are messengers, not of the latest town gossip, but of divine happenings in the midst of each person’s life.  They are heavenly beings with words of encouragement, blessing, and glorious revelations for us on earth.

            Have you ever experienced such a heavenly encounter?  I know some folks that call their loved ones “Angel.”  Others consider their children and grandchildren to be like cherubim.  Yet what about those unexpected souls, those people who catch us totally unaware, even to the point of seeming to be a nuisance?  Hebrews 13:2 reminds us, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (NRSV).

            You just never know when someone, even someone you may have never met before, might just have a divine word for you.  Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds certainly weren’t expecting it.  They made no plans for such an encounter.  Yet, as strange and unusual as the angelic appearance was for them, note how they all eventually responded: Joseph responded in obedience (Matt 1:24), Mary sang a song of praise (Lk 2:46-55), and the shepherds hurried to see what was happening and tell others about it (Lk 2:15-18).  So do we do the same?  Are we as open to hearing and responding as they were?

            Perhaps during this season of considering the hope, peace, joy, and love of Advent, we can also open ourselves to the mystery that comes from relationships – our relationship with God and the relationships we are called to have with one another, not just our family and close friends, but all of our neighbors, our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God here on earth.  Where might God be calling you to encounter an angel today?

                                                                                    Always pondering,

                                                                                    Pastor Steve

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