Advent Thoughts

Saturday, December 11
Matthew 1:20-21

She walked into the Bonn church each Sunday with regal bearing, her snowy white hair a crown. It was some time before we heard her World War II harrowing story–family separation, loss of goods, husband imprisoned by the enemy, forfeiture of status, falling from position in aristocracy to maid in a house she once visited as a favored guest.

But it was during a spirited discussion that we saw a deep-rooted faith that carried her through circumstances that swamped others. The theologically liberal group leader was giving his well-documented opinion on the existence of angels, or what he considered their non-existence. As though the usually quiet woman could be silent no longer, Frau von H. spoke up with quiet dignity to share undeniable stories of how she personally experienced the presence of life saving angelic activity during the war.

After what had been a day (or more?) of earth-shaking revelation about his well-planned, orderly future, and probably only after much tossing and turning, Joseph finally lays down his head in exhaustion. He had thoughtfully considered all the alternatives and come to a decision that would save Mary from public disgrace although he knew that both of them would be forever changed.

Into the darkness of the night and the darkness of his soul comes an angel with a message of unmistakable clarity. We have no evidence that Joseph and the angel discussed the issue. Did Joseph fall into seamless, dreamless sleep after the angel left? We don’t know.

Unlike our Bonn friend, I’ve never experienced the presence of an angel, but when God has a message so life altering that only a heavenly being is adequate for the plan, God acts. When Advent closes and Christ is born, we will see that God again calls angels–choirs of them–for the celebration. Will I see them? Will I hear them?

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