Touched by an Angel

Dec 24 2017

TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL

“And the angel said, ‘Fear not. For behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:10) Fear not – isn’t that the message we tell our children when they are afraid of something? But as we mature into adults, we sometimes forget that the angel’s message to ‘fear not’ is timeless. It is a message that calls to all people in every generation to look for an angel and believe in our hearts that God will support us and help us through all of the challenges that life may hand us.

The angel Gabriel said to Mary when he visited her to tell her that she would be the mother of Jesus, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30) That angel’s message rings to us through the ages. Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. As God’s children who look to God in all of the circumstances in our lives, we will always find favor in God’s eyes.

From 1995 through 2002, I served on the Publication Committee of the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. The staff person leading the committee was very spiritually gifted and on one occasion we had an extended discussion about the presence of angels all around us. He told me that if we are aware, we can sense them when they are there. It reminded me of two experiences I had at my prior church.

1990 was a particularly challenging year during which I simply asked God for support. One morning a man appeared in my church and sat in the last row. I had never seen him before, and I have never seen him since, but I knew he was special. To this day I believe it was an angel sent to give me assurance of the support I needed. We did not speak, but I just knew. When I walked down the aisle after the service he was leaving, but he turned and looked at me and I just knew.

The second experience occurred on a Christmas Eve when in the upper left corner of the sanctuary I saw the white hazy form of an angel.

 Last Sunday night I watched the original 1947 version of “The Bishop’s Wife” with Loretta Young as the Bishop’s wife, David Niven as the Bishop, and Cary Grant as the angel Dudley. David Niven plays a Bishop who wants to build a cathedral and asks God for guidance, which he gets, but not particularly in the form that he was expecting. Dudley the angel comes down to visit him to help. At one point Dudley burns the Bishop’s Christmas Eve sermon and writes his own for the Bishop which the Bishop does not realize until he mounts the pulpit on Christmas Eve and begins. However, he gives it, knowing that Dudley wrote it in place of his. This is the sermon from the film:

“Tonight I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees - with the sound of bells, and with gifts, but especially with gifts. You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer. And Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe. We forget nobody, not any child. All the stockings are filled - all that is except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up - the stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we are celebrating. Don't let us ever forget that. Let us ask ourselves what he would wish for most. Then let each put in his share. Loving kindness, warm hearts and a stretched out hand of tolerance - all the shining gifts that can make peace on earth.”

In keeping with my fascination with angels, one of my favorite television shows for years was “Touched by an Angel.” Three angels, played by Della Reese as Tess, the supervising angel, Roma Downey as Monica, and Andrew, the angel of death played by John Dye. Each episode featured a particular situation for which the angels were sent from heaven to help those in need. In an episode from 1994 entitled “Fear Not,” Monica and Tess travel to a small town and meet Joey, a mentally-challenged boy who is afraid of the dark. He and his best friend, Serena, are making preparations for the Christmas pageant at their church, which Joey refuses to attend due to the fact it is held during the evening. Monica must help Joey overcome his fear and also help his frustrated older brother, Wayne, form a stronger bond with Joey. Joey must also face the unfortunate reality that Serena is dying of a heart condition.

Serena was to be the angel at the town's Christmas pageant, butSerena dies. Right before the service begins, Monica spends a few moments with Joey and his brother who brought him as he is sitting in his pew for the Christmas Eve service. She then tells the stage manager to hook her up to the lift and hoist her up in the child’s place. The stage manager protests that it ill not hold her, but Monica insists. Please watch what happens. PLAY VIDEO. (A link to the video appears below.)

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As we approach this Christmas, let us take whatever troubles us and fear not, for God is with us. God will send angels to give us strength and to support us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. My wish for you is that at some time in your life you will be able to say that you received an answer for a question that was particularly troubling for you, and that somehow, sometime, somewhere, in the quiet of a special moment, you will hear “Fear not.”  And you will know that your answer came from an angel. You will just know. Merry Christmas. Amen.