Thursday, December 11, 2008

Angels In The Stable

Decorating for Christmas.

That was the scene last Saturday when Cathy and I broke out all the boxes and prepared our home for the holidays. I described recently how our tree ornaments bring back the memories of decorating as a family project. The tree stayed in the box this year (sorry Becki -- it wasn't real anyway) because we will head off to see family early Christmas morning.

I still had an emotional moment, though. It came as I put together a manger scene. A very kind lady gave this set to us over 25 years ago. It was -- and is -- a treasure. This year something about it changed and I discovered I had a problem.

You see the angel hovering above the stable? That one came with the original gift. Last year, though, Cathy's mom gave us another one. What would I do with that second angel?

I placed it in several different positions and nothing seemed to work. Placing the shepherds and the Magi where each was focusing on the Babe brought the significance of the moment into focus. The thought of the creator of the universe (see Colossians 1:16) humbling Himself to become a human baby and be born in the most meager of circumstances is overwhelming.

It was deciding where to put that second angel that caused me to think about this event from their point of view. The Bible occasionally pulls back the curtains on these heavenly beings. We can see that they are created beings (So are we!). Operating in the spiritual realm, they have a much clearer view of the glory of God than we experience here on earth. We discover in Scripture that they can abandon God (and many of them did along with Lucifer). What they can't do is return from their fall.

Why? I don't know. But it's this fact that must have blown their angelic minds. They know our history. They see the mess we are making of the world. They perceive our hopelessness.

And they understood that night that God Himself was coming to earth to be born as one of us. So he could pay the necessary price for restoring our relationship with Him. The one we had broken.

I placed that second angel in the stable. Near the Christ child. The people present couldn't begin to appreciate the meaning of that moment. But I think the angels had a pretty good idea. The Baby nestled against the wood of that manger would later be nailed to the wood of a cross.

When I thought about it I wept.

I would love to hear how this impacts you.


Liz said...

Sam... you and I have some sort of spiritual connection.

My pastor preached on Angels this past week. I am having lunch with him on Monday because I feel moved to share my own very intense and deeply spiritual experience with a very important angel who literally saved my life and brought me to the place where I am now.

It's a story I don't share often because it would literally make me sound crazy to most people.

I think putting the second angel near the manger was perfect. And if other angels come your way, I'd place more nearby... near the Christ-child, near Mary, near Joseph, near each shepherd and king.

I believe very, very, very strongly in angels and the very important job(s) they do. And I mean that in a very literal way- not just a person doing good things and helping someone at the right time kind of an angel. I mean a sent from God to perform a task... a non-human entity.

Bless you, Sam. God bless you. My pastor brought me into this emotional angel place on Sunday and you have brought me to it again. Now I just have to figure out why it is so important for me to be here. I believe that there is a reason- and not just the angels at Christmas thing. But there is a specific reason why I've been given 2 strong and emotional messages about angels.

Thank you.

Isabella said...

In a world full of commercialism around this time of year, it's refreshing to read a story about the thought that went into placing a second angel at the manger scene. Thank you for sharing. :)

Sam said...

Thanks, Isabella!

Liz, did you know that missionaries from our nation to other parts of the world resisted -- for many years -- telling American churches their full experiences about the spiritual realm? They were afraid they will be kicked out or laughed out of the buildings.

Billy Graham fired a wake-up call when he wrote a book on the subject. Frank Peretti blew everyone's minds when he wrote his Darkness books.

For some reason my own awareness of the invisible world goes to a whole new level every time I get off a plane in the Dominican Republic. I know a lady down there who became a Christian just a few years ago. Before that, she was a witch at one of the highest levels of voodoo. The Christians who stayed with her at night right after she gave her heart to Christ told some pretty outstanding stories of what they witnessed.

All of which is to say that some might think you sound crazy, but not me. I don't want to dwell on the sensational, but believing in the spiritual world is pretty normal from my point of view.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Your post made me think... if angels can never come back from the fall, yet Jesus was born & died for our forgiveness... how do the angels feel about that inequality? No, I don't think it's a question we can answer, it's just a thought that crossed my mind.

C. Beth said...

It's not your post but your comment to Liz that spoke to me.... I would love to hear more about the supernatural happenings in the DR.

Sam said...

Rachel, welcome aboard today and thanks for your insightful question. My immediate answer is that angels are mystified and overwhelmed at the great love of God for us. The angels, those who fell as well as those who didn't, had a more deep insight into the nature of God that hadn't been marred by sin. Whereas we were procreated through our parents, they apparently were individually created by God Himself. We sin because we are (by nature, inherited from our parents) sinners. They were created perfect and while they could be tempted, could also see more clearly the terrible choice they were making.

Beth, perhaps that conversation would be better in person via cam or when we next see you. That okay?

C. Beth said...

Yes--too much for a comment thread! Talk to you soon.

Rachel Cotterill said...

Thank you for your considered response - to what I thought was probably a purely rhetorical question. When you put it like that, it feels like the difference between how you might forgive your child for something (whether that's stealing a chocolate bar or hitting their friend) that you would take more seriously if it were done by an adult. Thank you for making me think :)