Preparing for Christmas is a delightful experience to me. I love getting out the decorations, playing Christmas music, watching favorite Christmas movies, lighting candles reserved for the season, entertaining, preparing special treats that for some reason are only eaten during Christmas time, strolling through stores and malls with special decorations and driving through neighborhoods that have prepared for this most important day.
Most of all, getting ready for Christmas includes the reading of the Christmas story. As a believer, I continue to be amazed and grateful that God would send His Son to live among men so that we might live with Him forever. As God was preparing the world for the first Christmas, He enlisted angels to bring messages to those who would be directly involved.
Many people are fascinated by angels, including me. Movies, television programs and books support the idea that good people become angels. That theory can make interesting entertainment, but it is not true. According to scripture, angels are unique creations of God and are spirits sent by God to minister to believers.
Other popular pieces of literature about angels concentrate on their involvement in the lives of people – sometimes detailing rescues and comfort in trying situations. Although it is possible to have encounters with angels, these visitations originate with God, not the angels themselves. Good angels are always on assignment from God. He deserves the credit for any rescue or comfort received at the hands of angels.
Joseph, who was engaged to the virgin Mary, came to understand his special role in the life of Jesus through many visitations of angels. After the birth of Christ, humble shepherds in the field were honored to receive a birth announcement – via special delivery through an angel and accompanied by an angelic choir.
Gabriel is one of two angels whose name we know. We first discover him in the Old Testament where he was sent by God to explain visions to Daniel. His most familiar appearances were in the New Testament as God sent him to prepare the world for the coming of the Christ child. He told Zacharias that God sent him to bring him news of the birth of his son, John the Baptist, whose voice in the wilderness would prepare the way of the Lord. When Gabriel is last mentioned in scripture by name, it was to deliver greetings from God to a young virgin who, because she had found favor with God, would be blessed among women and give birth to the promised Messiah.
“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God… the angel Gabriel was sent by God…to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary…And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus…The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you, therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:19, 26, 27, 31, 35).