“To a Maid Engaged to Joseph”
United Methodist Hymnal – #215
“So be it; I am ready
according to your word.”
I have never been visited by an angel. At least not one that I was aware of. Yet in the Christmas story, it seems that people are having visits from angels all the time! How would one know? In Renaissance paintings angels usually have flowing white gowns and big wings (except for Botticelli’s The Mystical Nativity, where the angels are dressed in white, brown, and pink, and always look more like Neapolitan ice cream – but I digress). But what if they looked just like us? Who could forget Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life? Except for some outdated clothes, he looked pretty much like everyone else. And my personal favorite, Dudley in The Bishop’s Wife. Cary Grant looked just like . . . well, Cary Grant. The Hallmark Channels have angels everywhere, and there’s no way to tell them from anyone else. So how do we know that we have not been visited by angels? And for that matter, what really qualifies someone as an angel? With a small change of my understanding of what an angel actually is, I can guarantee that I have been visited by any number of angels. From the doctor who discovered my heart murmur, to the person who introduced me to my wife, to the people who just wouldn’t give up on me, to the person who loved me when I was at my most unlovable. The search for angels in our midst is not that different than the vision of Christ in someone else’s face, or the God sightings we have in the most mundane experiences. Be aware!!!
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by doing that some have entertained
angels without knowing it.
Gracious and loving God, open our eyes to your presence. Let us not look beyond those we encounter, but rather into the souls of your children, our brothers and sisters. You do not deny your children. We, therefore, should be loving and accepting, opening our arms as well. As we love you, and you have loved us, guide us to show that same love to all your children. Amen.
~Rev. L. Michael Kelley