This week, we're talking about witnesses to the birth of Jesus. It's easy for us to think about the earthly witnesses - those in the manger, the family, the shepherds, the wise men - but we don't often think about the heavenly host who also witnessed the birth, not only witnessed it but were sent to tell some of the others that it was coming...and to come.
It was an angel who first told Elisabeth, and then Mary, about the baby that was to come. It was an angel who told Zacharias and Joseph they were going to be fathers. It was an angel, and then a whole host of angels, who told the shepherds to come in from the fields.
And it was all the host of heaven who, for the very first time, watched Jesus leave them and sojourn down to this place called Earth so that He could live among the people whom He loves so much. It was the angels who, as the world was saying hello, had to say goodbye and give this greatest gift to humanity.
The angels are a cool story because they already knew what humanity was about to find out; they knew it to the full. They knew exactly who Jesus was, what He was going to do, how He was going to do it. They knew the love that He brought with Him. They knew how He did the good and perfect will of His Father. They knew it all, and so it was not sadness for them when they sang over His birth, but joy.
Christians, you've probably never heard this, may not be aware, but if we are anyone in the Christmas story, we are the angels. At least, we're supposed to be.
See, we're the ones who know what those who don't know Jesus this Christmas are about to find out. We're the ones who know it to the full. We're the ones who know who Jesus is, what He did, how He did it. We're the ones who know that the manger...is just the beginning; greater things still have come. We know the love that He brought with Him. We know how He did the good and perfect will of His Father. We know it all, and so we ought to be singing...with joy.
It's easy not to, of course, with all the stuff the world wraps around Christmas. But we can't let that change it for us. We can't let that make us miss what's happening. Yes, it feels cheap sometimes to share our Jesus with so much commercialization. It feels like a tremendous loss to have to put Him beside Santa Claus and reindeer and presents and bows. It's a great disappointment because we think the world is missing what a truly incredible event this is.
That's why, though, we have to tell them. That's why we have to sing it out with joy. That's why we have to tell them about His coming and invite them to come. Because we know something they don't...yet.
This Advent, let us reflect on what it means to be a part of the angels, a part of the host who knows what's happening in a little manger in Bethlehem and who sings with tremendous joy and declares to the world the coming of the Christ child.