Monday, December 5, 2011

The Fifth Person of Christmas is Gabriel

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.  For no word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1:35-36

The angel Gabriel is a member of a privileged group. Not only is he an angel, he's an archangel, one of two mentioned specifically mentioned in the Bible.  In church lore, there are thought to be seven archangels:  Gabriel, Michael (the other angel mentioned in the Bible), Raphael, Uriel, Raguel, Remiel and Saraqael. These angels are mentioned in the Jewish canon, Enoch, which is also referenced in the book of Jude in the New Testament.  (Note:  there is some thought that there were eight archangels . . . the 8th being Lucifer.)

Archangels are messengers - trusted with God's instructions and holy words.  Archangels are warriors, sent to fight on our behalf.  They are servants of God, as are all angels.

Oh, to be Gabriel on this day.  Can you imagine with me for a moment the dark spiritual forces that might have been surrounding Mary on this day?  Satan did not want Mary to get this message from God.  Perhaps he hoped that if he caused her to have a really bad day, she would act ugly and God would change His mind about her.  Or maybe, if he stirred up a lot of evil activity that day, Gabriel would be busy - too busy to deliver the message.

I like to imagine that Gabriel, with a huge, mighty sword, is swashbuckling his way to Mary, throwing demons left and right, with a heavenly host with him, and they surround Mary at this moment, protecting her, loving her, giving God's peace and calm to her.

To me, the most important thing that Gabriel says is the very last sentence, above:  No word from God will ever fail. 

I like to imagine that Mary held onto these words for the rest of her life!  No word from God will ever fail.  God speaks peace - it will never fail.  God speaks love - it will never fail.  God speaks hope - it will never fail.  God speaks deliverance - it will never fail.

 I wonder if it was hard for Gabriel.  After all, Jesus had been in heaven forever, and Gabriel had known Jesus since Gabriel was created!  Did Gabriel know and understand all that Jesus was in for?  Did he understand the prophecies?  Would Gabriel quite simply miss Jesus, after spending thousands of years in his presence?

Well, we'll never know on this side of eternity.  However, we know this:  Gabriel is important to the Christmas story because he was chosen to perform the most sacred of tasks - to deliver the Good News to Mary. He was able to tell her not just about the coming Messiah, but the Messiah he already knew.

Think about this:  when he told Mary that she would give birth to a son, and call him Jesus, and "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High" . . . Gabriel already knew Jesus, knew him just like that.

Yes, Gabriel is an important part of the Christmas story.  Not only did he get to deliver this beautiful, eternity-changing, earth-shattering message . . . but he got to talk about the Jesus he already knew.  The one who is - who always was - great.  The Son of God.

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