Read: Isaiah 52:7
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The Christmas season is almost here! “Black Friday” is this week, the busiest shopping day of the year. The blitz is on as TV commercials try to sell you on gift ideas. The messages are inescapable and relentless, but they will pass with the season. While it’s hard to miss the marketing campaign, it’s easier to miss the “reason for the season”, and it’s easy to miss God’s message.
In Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, the word for messenger is “malak”. It’s the same word used for human messengers or messengers of God (angels). The word “angel” is from Greek, but it means the same thing as the Hebrew word, “malak”; both words mean “messenger”. Those who announce “peace”, who bring “good news”, who proclaim “salvation”, or who reveal “the reign” or Kingdom of God, really are angels.
Angels are all over the Christmas story – bringing messages from God to Zechariah, to Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds, and soon we will be singing and celebrating their role in the story. But even so, the holidaze can be fatiguing and disorienting. We can be simultaneously singing of angels proclaiming the good news and struggling to hear the message that is obscured from the louder message of commercialism. It’s annual dilemma. One church started celebrating “Christmas in July”, to escape the commercialism. It worked. Other churches joined in, and it grew. People started visiting that community in July to experience it and it became increasingly popular. Then local merchants started running “Christmas in July” sales and specials to appeal to the tourists, and the same issues arose.
“Silent Night” can be shouted over, but it doesn’t lose it’s meaning. Joseph and Mary can be displaced because there is no room for them in the inn, but the birth will still take place. This year, I want you to be a messenger. Help at the Christmas food basket distribution, or take an Advent devotional to share, or go caroling with our youth, or find another way to share the enduring message of God’s love with others. You will “keep Christmas”, and you will be an angel.
Shalom, Pastor Rob Nystrom