It had been 400 years since God had spoken to his people through a prophet, assuring them that he was their God and would keep his promises. And now the nation wondered. Would Messiah really come to rescue them? or had God forgotten his people?
Then, one day as Zechariah the priest was going about his job in the Temple, the angel Gabriel appeared to him, and Zechariah was filled with fear. But Gabriel said “Don’t be afraid, for I have come to tell you that you’ll soon have a son, and he will be the one to announce the coming of Messiah!”
Later, Gabriel was sent to another house in the village of Nazareth. There he greeted Mary, a young girl engaged to Joseph. “Greetings favored one” he said, “the Lord is with you!” Like Zechariah, Mary was greatly troubled, and confused. Gabriel said to her “Don’t be afraid, for you have found great favor in the eyes of God, and he has chosen you to bear a child who will be the Son of the Most High, the Promised Messiah!”
Now Mary was quite confused, for she had never been with a man. “Don’t be afraid Mary” Gabriel said “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High with overshadow you, and your son will be called holy, for he will be the Son of God.”
Many months later, as the time came for Mary to deliver her baby boy, she and Joseph had to travel south from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the city of King David. And it was there that the time came for her son to be born. They were forced to take shelter in one of the caves used by the shepherds whose job it was to care for the precious Passover lambs that were born during that season. When Jesus was born, they carefully wrapped him in special linen cloths, and laid God’s Son in a stone manger, even as they marveled at what God was doing.
Outside on the hillside God once again used his angelic messenger to announce the fulfillment of the Messianic promise. The angel declared to the shepherds that the promise of Messiah had been fulfilled. He told the shepherds “The Messiah – the Christ – is born tonight, and you will know who he is because you will find him wrapped in special linens, and lying in a manger.” And suddenly, the whole angelic choir appeared in the sky, filling the night with praises singing “Glory to God in the Highest, and on earth peace among those with whom God is pleased!”
And so, as we light the 2nd candle of Advent – the Angels Candle – we rejoice with them, and with the Shepherds, and with Mary and Joseph, that God has kept his promise, and Jesus, our Messiah and Savior has come to us. Emmanuel, God with us!
Prayer: Great Father of glory, fill our hearts with joy, and our lips with praise, that we, along with your angelic choir, may fill this place with your praises, for you are faithful, and have kept your promise to send the One who alone can rescue us from sin, and bring us eternal life. We thank you for you love, and we thank you for Jesus, in whose Name we pray, Amen.
Photo Credit: "Candle" by Arvind Balaraman; Freedigitalphotos.net