It’s that time of year when we see and hear lots about angels.  They are on Christmas cards, Christmas trees, Christmas decorations. Advertisements., and in many Christmas carols and songs. Have you seen a nativity play without an angel?

 The stories about Jesus’ birth told by St Matthew and St Luke mention six occasions when supernarural, heavenly angels brought messages to people. Zechariah (father of John the Baptist) couldn’t believe it.  Mary was shocked.  The shepherds thought it was worth investigating.  Joseph was reassured, then warned of danger, and finally told it was safe to take his family home  

I wonder which language the angels spoke – it certainly wasn’t English.  Perhaps the greeting was ‘a salaam a laikum’ (Peace be upon you) at some encounters, as spoken by Muslims everywhere today.

 Angel messages pointed to changes of direction or new beginnings, and brought major changes in individuals or societies.

 Word meanings change over time.  Now it isn’t only heavenly messengers who are called angels.  Carers, nurses, family members, neighbours, taxi drivers, shop workers, friends, strangers, young and old who show kindness and ‘do that little bit extra’ sometimes hear the words ‘Thank you – you’re an angel’.

 Actions often speak louder than words.  At a personal level actions which show kindness, compassion, support or caring have immediate practical effects, but they also say that love, care and dignity is deserved.  A clear message to the recipient and example to the wider world without any pompous words. 

 In public and political spheres difficult decisions must be made which will affect many lives.

  It isn’t possible to please everyone all of the time, but leaders who speak and act for justice, peace, salvation can also be God’s messengers, whether they acknowledge this or not.  We have a role to play in supporting them.  We need more angels!

 Come angels, come Immanael, in supernatural or human form.

Bring Peace and Hope and Life for all this Christmas.


Alan Partridge

Fairplace Church, Okehampton