|Kempton New Church|
In the Christmas stories, angels play an important part. The angel Gabriel announced the birth of John the Baptist, and then the birth of the Lord Himself. A multitude of the heavenly host told the shepherds when the Lord was born. Quite possibly the star that appeared in the East and led the wise men to the Lord was a host of angels, seen from a distance. And the angel of the Lord warned Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt, and then let him know when it was safe to return home. You can find these stories in Matthew and Luke, chapters one and two.
Stories like these remind us that every day, the Lord gives His angels charge concerning us, to protect us in all our ways (Psalm 91:11). The word “angel” in the Hebrew and Greek languages means “messenger.” The Lord God, Jesus Christ, is our only Savior, but in His mercy, He gives the angels wonderful work to do as His messengers. At His command, angels watch over us all the time. They remind us of what we know is right and wrong. They warn us when we are headed in the wrong direction. They show us opportunities to help one another. They strengthen us when we are discouraged, bringing us the good tidings of the Lord’s salvation, just as they brought them at His birth. They do all these things in such quiet ways that we feel as if there is no one guiding us at all.
Swedenborg was given to write, “By such means angels from the Lord lead and protect a person, and this every moment, and every moment of a moment. For if the angels were to relax their care for a single moment, the person would plunge into evil from which he could never be brought out. The angels do these things from the love they have from the Lord, for they perceive nothing more delightful and happy than to remove evils from a person and lead him to heaven. This is a joy to them, as we see in Luke 15:7: ‘I say to you that likewise there shall be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents….’ Scarcely anyone believes that the Lord takes such care of a person, and this continually from the first thread of his life to the last of it, and afterward to eternity.” (AC 5992:3)
The Lord wants each one of us to become an angel, and we can start right now. We can look to the Lord as our Savior, the only one who can save us from our sins. We must look up to Him as the Commander of the heavenly host, and aim to be good soldiers under His command.
We need to make sure we are not interfering with this angelic protection – by loosening the Lord’s commandments, or hurting our family and friends by our words or actions. Then the Lord will show us opportunities to help. We can be His messengers to our friends and neighbors. We can support each other in giving “glory to God in the highest,” and fostering “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.”
I hope you have a peaceful, hopeful Christmas season.