Join the Work of the Angels
The Festival of Michael and All Angels
Join the Work of the Angels
Text: Luke 2:9-14
The fire was quietly crackling. The smoke was gradually gliding upward. The flames and embers gave a gentle glow on the campsite. It was restful. It was tranquil. It was peaceful. Just another night out in the country fields. But not for long. This normal night would go down as one of the most eventful evenings in history.
The quiet fields outside of little Bethlehem had been silent for ages. Nothing more than bleating sheep or shouting shepherds happened out there. But something incredible was happening on this night. Suddenly these shepherds were surrounded by the glory of the Lord. Like the pillar of fire leading Israel out of Egypt, like Mt. Sinai quaking and shaking, like Solomon’s temple filled with smoke, the glory of the Lord was brilliantly illuminating the night sky. And the shepherds “were terrified.”
Who was sent to announce what was going on? An angel. For the fourth time in the last 15 months, an angel made an appearance on earth. An angel had appeared to Zechariah to announce the coming birth of John the Baptist. Then an angel appeared to Mary and to Joseph to announce the coming birth of Jesus. Now an angel appeared to make another announcement.
This is actually normal. Not the appearing of the angel part. The angels serving. That is normal. That is what they were created to do. The last verse of the second lesson this morning told us: “All angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation.”
Angels are beings that minister to, or serve, God. God uses them to serve us as well. In the Bible God sent angels to deliver messages. He sent angels to give warnings, to encourage, to destroy, to defeat, to rescue, to save. Today God still uses angels to serve. We don’t exactly know how. We can’t see them. But we know that God does use angels to do his bidding as he watches over and protects us. The angels always perfectly serve God.
We can praise God for his thousands upon thousands of angels. We can also look to angels as examples for our lives. When was the last time God asked you to do something and you were so eager to do it that you jumped to your feet and sped off in total obedience? When was the last time you had the opportunity to worship or praise the Lord and you were so eager that you joined with a host of other people to bellow God’s praises into the skies?
More often we drag our feet to serve God. God tells us to love our neighbor, to be patient and forgiving, and we think, “Oh man, do I have to?” We have opportunity to glorify God in everything we do every day. But we think, “I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t want to look weird.” We have opportunity to worship and praise the Lord but we speak our responses in the service folder with a reserved monotone. We sing hymns like we’re singing lullabies. Our Sunday morning faces look more like we are attending a funeral than worship of the living God.
Thousands upon thousands of angels are pleased to serve the loving and merciful God that created them. Day after they day they gladly do his bidding as they serve him with great joy. Learn from the angels. Then Join the Work of the Angels in serving the loving and merciful God that made you as his special creatures.
Have you seen any birth announcements recently? These days people are constantly trying to outdo each other with the creativity of their birth announcement. My sister gave a present to my parents. They opened it and found a picture frame with an ultrasound picture inside. Recently I saw a friend who had a fall picture posted on her Facebook page. She had two pumpkins with the couple’s names on it and then a small one in the middle. The caption said, “Our little pumpkin. Coming this spring.” Some people post birth pictures in the newspaper. Some people mail photo cards to all their family friends with the newborn in an adorable little pose.
All very cute and clever. But no birth announcement can compare to Jesus’ birth announcement to the shepherds. “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”
We can understand why they were terrified. This may be the greatest birth announcement ever, but it was terrifying. After all, what other reaction would sinful humans have when standing in the presence of the glory of the Lord? But this angel’s first words to the shepherds were the same words spoken to Zechariah, to Mary, and to Joseph: “Do not be afraid.”
The angel had a good reason for the shepherds not to fear, too. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Not only do angels serve the Lord joyfully, but they also joyfully proclaim the good news of God.
The news was so good that this birth announcement needed more than just one angel. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”
What was this good news that would calm the fears of the shepherds? What was this good news that a host of angels couldn’t wait to proclaim? God had kept his promises.
God had promised to forgive sins, to send them down to the depths of the sea. God had promised that he would redeem his fallen people. God had promised that a descendant of David born in Bethlehem would be the anointed Messiah. God had promised that he would bring peace to people through his chosen one. These angels were joyfully proclaiming the good news that God had kept all of his promises.
We can praise God for his thousands upon thousands of angels. We can also look to angels as examples for our lives. Do we proclaim the good news of God with that kind of joy? When you meet someone new, is your first thought how to make a good impression, or how you can strike up a conversation about Jesus? When you sit next to people on an airplane, do you hope they leave you alone or hope for a chance to share Jesus? Does Sunday morning feel like labor, like a duty to fulfill? Or do you wake up so eager to praise God for what he has done for you that you can hardly wait for church?
Thousands upon thousands of angels are eager to endlessly proclaim the greatness of our God. On one quiet evening near Bethlehem they proclaimed the greatest news of all time. God sent a Savior. The Messiah, the Christ had come. There was now peace for people.
Let that good news resonate in your hearts and echo off your lips. You need not be afraid. God sent a Savior for you. God has given you peace. Learn from the angels. Then Join the Work of the Angels by proclaiming the great things God has done.
As the angels of God willingly serve him and do his bidding, as they proclaim the great deeds of the Lord, all of this brings one great result: They give God glory. And why wouldn’t they give God glory on this one quiet night near Bethlehem? The culminating moment of all history had taken place. The Savior had arrived! Thus the angels burst forth in song: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Not only do angels joyfully serve God, not only do angels joyfully proclaim what God has done, but angels also joyfully give God glory.
We can praise God for his thousands upon thousands of angels. We can also look to angels as examples for our lives. Do we give God glory in everything we do with that same eager joy? Do you wake up in the morning and think, “How am I going to give glorify to my Maker and Savior today?” Do you pack lunches for your kids and think about how your tireless love is giving God glory? Do you work day after day and think about how your dutiful work is giving God glory? Do you think about the words that you speak and the actions you take which other people will hear and see and which will ultimately reflect back on how much you love your God?
Thousands upon thousands of angels are eager to give God glory at every moment of their existence. They sing his praises in the heavens. They do his bidding on earth. And sometimes, like on this quiet night in Bethlehem, they even give God glory here on earth.
We have reasons to give God glory, too. His mercy. His forgiveness. His faithfulness. His love. All of these have been given to us! Learn from the angels. Then Join the Work of the Angels by glorifying God in everything that you do.
The concept of angels and what they do has been greatly ruined by our American culture. Think of the examples that we have had. “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings” we hear every Christmas in It’s a Wonderful Life. A generation ago pop culture presented us with Michael Landon as angel on probation here on earth in Highway to Heaven. Touched by an Angel ran on TV for nine years in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Then there were movies like City of Angels with Nicholas Cage playing an angel, or Michael with John Travolta playing the archangel Michael, or Angels in the Outfield, or the horribly sacrilegious movie Dogma. Then there are animated movies or cartoons or The Far Side calendar cartoons. This hardly even scratches the surface on how much our idea of angels is skewed by pop culture.
Angels are so much better and so much greater than a silly cartoon drawing, and certainly better than John Travolta. They are heavenly beings of great power that God created. He created them to serve him and to serve us. They proclaim the greatness of God. They give him glory. Serving, proclaiming, and glorifying is their job. That’s what they were made to do. That’s what they gladly do.
We can learn a lot from the angels. God has created us to do the same things—to serve him, to proclaim what he has done, and to give him glory. When we return to that one quiet night near Bethlehem when Jesus was born, how easy that becomes for us! When we consider what God has done, we gladly serve and proclaim and glorify.
Maybe the words of verse 14 sound familiar to you. Of course we hear them every year at Christmas time. But you hear them more than that. This song of the angels has been a refrain sung by Christians for 2,000 years. It’s the Gloria in Excelsis or Glory Be to God on High. We sing it all the time here. We use different tunes and settings, but we sing it all the time.
Here’s a key question for you astute and aware worshipers: When do we sing that song? Every time we sing it, it’s at the exact same time. Walk yourself through the service: We begin in the name of our true God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We acknowledge and confess that we have sinned against our great God. Then we hear it announced that for the sake of Jesus Christ all our sins have been forgiven. What comes next? We join with saints and angels in heaven and on earth to sing: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Our worship is set up to mirror our daily lives. When we consider how sinful we have been, yet realize that our God has loved and forgiven us, God’s people cannot help but have our first reaction be: “Glory to God in the highest!”
Let the good news of our Savior Jesus and the peace that he brings reign and rule in your hearts. Then join the work of the angels. Joyfully serve your God. Joyfully proclaim what your God has done. Joyfully give glory to God in the highest.
Posted on September 29, 2013, in Church, Sermons and tagged Angel, Angels, Archangel Michael, Christmas, Church, Glorify, Glory, Glory of the Lord, Luke, Luke 2, Michael, Michael and All Angels, Proclaim, Sermons, Serve, Serving, Shepherds. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.