In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was a descendant of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. Now at the time of the incense-offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’
First of all, thank you to everyone for the well wishes…still pretty snotty but getting better. As I read the above scripture it has gotten me to thinking about angels. I have been reading quite a bit about angels lately because of the appearance of Gabriel in this scripture and then when Gabriel appears to Mary as well a little later. What is this angel stuff about? Why is this particular angel named? When I read about angels I am noticing a few things. First of all, when scripture mentions angels it mentions nothing about how angels look. So I looked up some images…check these out.
And these are just some of my favorites. Of course there are many many many images of angels out there. I notice a few things that are the same in these renditions. Most if not all have wings of some sort and all have some sort of heavenly glow. No where does the bible say this is true however. So as I continue to read I understand more and more that perhaps angels, especially the angel Gabriel looked and look just like us. No wonder it would have been so startling to see one. All we know from scripture is that the angels do exude some sort of holiness so that we know they are angels but they perhaps looked a lot like you and me.
This changes everything for me. Perhaps angels do appear but in our everyday lives in different forms but exude holiness. Heck, angels could be people we know. I guess I have always believed that if I haven’t said it. Sometimes somehow people seem to appear at just the right time to do just the right thing in my life. Or sometimes someone shows up to call me out or to challenge me in just the time that God should show up. Sometimes someone reminds me about God just in the right moment. Have you had these experiences?
I am thinking of a couple of times in particular this morning. As we remember the significance of December 7, I am thinking of a new friend of mine named Bob. Bob is a World War II vet and remembers landing planes very clearly. He was 19 at the time and flew a P-38 and remembers the landing beaches oh so clearly. He remembers being trained and remembers the day that shots when up through the plane into his leg. He managed to fly the plane back to safety and was sent home with a purple heart. While he tells this story he tears up talking about the men he served with and how to cherish where you are right now. Bob just got married for the second time to a wonderful woman who also knows what it is like to care for an ailing spouse and what it is like to find love at an old age. This couple, in their 70s and 80s, will stop everything to tell you to cherish love and what it is like to live again. I had the privilege of presiding at there wedding ceremony…one of the most angelic experiences of my life. What if angels were here among us to remind us how to cherish one another and looked just like us? What if angels have been the ones to experience and then to talk to us about it?
Or I am thinking of the time that I was looking distraught in the church parking lot talking to a colleague. Out of the blue a couple walked towards me and kind of hung back. I looked a little with judginess because I thought the ask for money was coming soon after I got off the phone. They got a bit closer looking at me nervously. Finally the woman in the pair said, “Excuse me. You look like you are having a bad day…can we give you a hug?” I said sure and they did and then they walked away. Just like that. What if angels look differently than we might expect but open our eyes to something new?
Who are the angels in your life? What do they look like? Are you an angel to someone else today? Are they in our midst during the season? I think so! What do you think?
Prayer: O God, help us to see angels in our midst today. Much like the angel Gabriel came with good and unexpected news to Zechariah and Mary, bring us good and unexpected news through your everyday looking angels. Perhaps fill us with good news to deliver today. Open our hearts to receive angels all around us. Amen.