Friday, 12 December 2014

But his angels here are human...

I've just returned from my first (but probably not my last!) Christmas meal of the season - at our Men's Luncheon Club.  As is the case every December we had a splendid meal followed by an AGM - at which the Minister gives a Christmas message - so today I felt rather like the Queen at 3pm on 25th December!

I gave the briefest of talks about angels.  They pop up regularly in the story we are about to celebrate. Gabriel is busy with 'breaking news' for both Zechariah and Mary and the shepherds hear the news of the nativity first from a solitary angel who is then joined later by a 'host'.

Angels, as described by the biblical writers, are 'God's messengers' and I love the way Gabriel describes himself to John the Baptist's father: 'I stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news...'  Isn't that wonderful and couldn't it be a sort of description for every Christian.  We stand in God's presence - whether that's public worship or private prayer - and then we 'go' - we go out to share something of God's love, light and message in our everyday lives.

One of my very favourite Advent hymns is Henry Burton's There's a light upon the mountains and it has this utterly splendid and meaningful line:
'but his angels here are human,
not the shining hosts above,
for the drum beats of his army
are the heart-beats of our love.'
I just adore that sentiment and want this hymns at my funeral!  I love the lines because they 'ground' our faith and invite us all to participate in God's life in the here and now.

As I prepared tonight's supper the kitchen radio was on and I heard an interview on Radio Four with a British nurse who has volunteered to go out to Africa this Christmas and serve with an Ebola Task Force.  She was asked what she had packed and without making a big deal of it she casually mentioned she had included her bible.  Aah - I thought - I think I recognise where her motivation might be coming from.  She was asked if she had time to read it in her new surroundings -'every day' she replied, 'for fifteen minutes'.  I was so thrilled to hear this interview of a young British nurse speaking of her faith, speaking of her love for her fellow human beings and how she could combine the two.

Something verging on the 'angelic' in all of that - and my heart was glad as I cooked the sausages!

All good wishes,


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