Day Ten: Angels and Shepherds

Friedrich Peter Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Calligraphy. Used with permission all rights reserved.

From CIVA Gallery: Embrace the Gift

“Do not be afraid,” the angel said.  “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”  The angel had appeared to a group of Hebrew shepherds in the Judean countryside.  But the news that he brought was for all the world.  What God was doing in Bethlehem that night would affect the course of the entire world. 


“Today a savior has been born,” the angel said, “he is Christ the Lord.”  We don’t know what went through the minds of the shepherds, but when we hear this story today it is natural to ask the question, “If this new baby is a savior for the whole world, what will he save it from?”  The shepherds with their Jewish ears might have thought that this baby would one day deliver them from the yoke of Roman occupation.  That was a common hope among the Jews.  But that wouldn’t be great news for all people.  Modern evangelical Christians might say that he came so that Christians could go to heaven.  And that is part of it.  But the words the angels used for “savior” and the related word translated “salvation” were very broad words.  The words that the angels used communicated a rich holistic idea of salvation.  Salvation meant wholeness, well-being, healing, deliverance, a right relationship with God, hope, life, understanding, peace, harmony.  Their message is the proclamation that the plan God devised to save the world from darkness and sin is now being put into operation.  


And in response to this announcement a host of angels breaks out into praise, “Glory to God in the highest!”  (It is the Latin translation of this phrase—Gloria in excelsis Deo—that makes up the chorus of our Christmas carol, Angles We Have Heard on High.) And when we know God’s salvation we can truly have joy at Christmas!


Dear Father, I want to experience the fullness of your salvation.  I confess that I don’t even know the full extent of what that means.  But I do know the condition of my soul.  I admit that my heart is often hardened toward you and toward my brothers and sisters.  I am self-centered and too often I fail to show love to those around me.  I am more interested in my image than I am in truly being the person that you created me to be.  I seek prestige and notoriety instead of seeking you.  I use the pleasure and excitement that the world offers in order to hide from my fears.  So, Lord, I know the bondage of sin and the darkness of my own mind and soul.


Lord, I need your salvation.  You are my only hope.  Accomplish your plan in me so that I may truly rejoice with the angels!