The Western world is on a fast track to outright paganism. And yet, for now at least, a semblance of the advent story has been left in tact. We still have a baby in a manger, a guiding star, amazed shepherds and worshipping wise-men. Once a year we have this half-chance of inviting our non-Christian friends to something that we know they might enjoy – singing carols, sipping mulled wine, and hearing a heart-warming message about the love of God for all.
Only are we missing something? In the midst of the good news and the love of God and amazing birth of God’s Son … have we missed a vital part of the story? As much as we need to proclaim the love of God in Christ, and as much as we should declare the good news of peace with God through Christ, are we only telling half the story?
Luke 2:14 and the praise of the heavenly host epitomises this for me. We all know the scene:
The shepherds watching their flocks by night.
The angels fluttering about in the warm after glow of ambient light.
The consoling song of the heavenly host: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom he is praised!”
What better passage of Scripture to declare the re-affirming nature of the love of God?
But have we missed something?
Return to the scene. Only think about it through a different (and more redemptive-historical) lens:
Angel appearances are rare and frightening.
Angels are fearsome warriors. The Bible consistently describes them as formidable other-worldly beings.
The ‘heavenly host’ (Luke 2:13) refers to the innumerable angelic armies of God, who serve and do the bidding of ‘the Lord of hosts’ (Isaiah 6).
There are millions of them- a “multitude”. The whole host has turned up. The sky is littered with them. The shepherds are out-numbered 1,000,000 to 1.
Are you beginning to get a feel for the scene? This is no place for the light-hearted. I would not be surprised if the shepherds’ hearts stopped, legs wobbled, bowels moved and bladders emptied. Read more»
Andy Young | “Advent As War” | December 15, 2021
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