Truth in Angel’s Song
Imagining the Shepherd’s story.
A favourite Christmas present that I received last year was made by my artistic, oldest sister. She crafted a set of three pictures, one for me, one for my parents, and one for our middle sister, depicting the angels from the Christmas story.
Figures of angels in shades and textures of silver and white are stitched carefully onto a deep blue velvet, thick like the night sky. Some of the angels are opaque in chiffon, some shine brightly in sharp silver thread, and the central, largest angel carries one of three embroidered messages.
Mine reads “And you shall give him the name Jesus.”
The picture hangs elegantly in my bedroom and I have wondered at it all year. Was this Mary’s experience? What did she see when Gabriel revealed to her that she’d carry the Savior of the world?
And what did the shepherds see in those fields?
"An angel of the Lord appeared to them...” (Luke 2:9 NIV)
Did the angel burst in brightness out of the night? Or did it fade into view like car headlights coming from a distance? When I try to imagine what it would be like to have the glory of the Lord shine around me, the best I can think of is being lit up by soccer-match floodlights. The glory of the Lord is surely more than light, but it certainly shone. How did the shepherds keep their eyes open to see what followed?
“Suddenly, a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel...” (Luke 2:13 NIV)
I have casually strolled past this story many times, letting tradition fill the gap. But my sister’s picture has made me think deeper. Were they chubby baby cherubs with tiny harps, or gargantuan beings in fearsome armour? What did they sound like as they declared, as they sang?
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV)
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” (Luke 2:14 NIV)
Those ancient words promise that God is here, that there is no need to be afraid, that great joy comes for everyone, in the form of a baby. That with this baby, God is glorified and humans find peace. Those songs must have rattled through the bodies of the shepherds, the angelic harmonies vibrating their marrow. Such loud truth can’t be easily forgotten. It caused them to leap, to run, to see Him for themselves, to glorify God unashamed and tell everyone.
The angel’s voices must have rung in their ears for days, even years. Did they learn those tunes, hum the melodies until the day they died?
Listen for Loud truth
I’ve been on a truth-hunt lately. It’s a voyage, fighting to get the truth stuck inside of my head, instead of the lies. Those lies that bore life out of me and stunt my growth. The ones that exhaust life. I want truth to reverberate in me. I want the loud truths, the ones that were sung over fields of startled shepherds all those years ago. I want to hear those songs louder than the dirges of worry.
Maybe I won’t have a shepherd’s hillside experience. But looking at those needlework angels hung on my wall, I see what could have happened. And today I remember the truth that the angels sang, and I sing along with them.
Don’t be afraid. Jesus, God in human form, He came to earth. He is peace to men... peace to me... peace to you. Every day.
Glory to God in the highest.