Paths Where Angels Tread

Angels sang in the heavens when Christ was born.  Shepherds in the fields saw and heard them.  But that was not the first time that angels had come, nor would it be the last.  In the Old Testament Abraham entertained angels unawares, and Jacob dreamed of angels ascending and descending a ladder.  In the Gospels an angel told Mary that her son would be the Christ, and angels were at the resurrection, too.  The book of Revelation tells us that angels will be there for the new heaven and the new earth.  And the examples go on and on.

Alexander Pope observed that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”  Pope may have been right, but he leaves a question.  Where do angels want to tread?  Using the Bible as our guide, they want to go where God sends them, to deliver God’s message, and to do God’s will.  We could learn a thing or two from them!

Our pilgrim journey is a personal commitment, but it is also a message and a declaration.  A declaration that we are committed to lives of obedience and words of love.  Whatever we do and whatever we say, our lives fill a role similar to the angels sometimes.  We are God’s messengers.

Laura Copenhaver was the daughter of a Lutheran minister.  She demonstrated a talent and passion for the written word, preparing poems, hymns, and pageants for Sunday schools.  Heralds of Christ is one of her most widely sung hymns.  The words inspire us to remember that we are messengers of God, bearing immortal messages to a mortal world.

Heralds of Christ, who bear the King’s commands,
immortal tidings in your mortal hands,
pass on and carry swift the news you bring;
make straight, make straight the highway of the King.

Angels faithfully brought the message of Jesus’ birth and sent others to spread it.  We have received the message.  Now it is our turn.  Carry swift the good news.  Jesus the Messiah has come!

Follow the Path!

[Use with Good Tidings of Great Joy, day 35 of A Labyrinth Pilgrimage]

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Pondering the Ordinary Steps

Let’s begin with a statement of the obvious.  Every person living today was born.  Since birth is an event common to every single person, it might be considered one of the most ordinary of all experiences.  Try telling that to a new mother, though.  As “ordinary” as the concept of birth may be, there is no such thing as an ordinary birth.  Each birth is unique, and every child is precious.

Mary, the mother of the Christ child, treasured the birth of her first son.  So many wondrous things happened, but the gospel of Luke recorded something ordinary.  When Jesus was born in a stable something very predictable happened.  Shepherds came.  What could be more ordinary in a stable than encountering people who care for animals?  Of course shepherds came!  But Mary listened as they told her that they had come for extraordinary reasons.  They saw angels.  They heard angels.  They obeyed angels.  And they found Christ, just as the angels had said.  Luke says that Mary treasured up all of these things–the ordinary and the extraordinary–and pondered them in her heart.

Everywhere we turn, the ordinary intersects with the extraordinary. Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence celebrates the story of Jesus’ birth. It is a Eucharist hymn from the Liturgy of St. James.  It was translated into ordinary language (English) by Gerard Moultrie and is usually sung to the melody of an ordinary French folk tune. The Eucharist is the formal name for the service of communion, which honors Jesus’ instruction at the Last Supper to break bread in remembrance of Him. It takes ordinary bread and wine and shares them in an extraordinary way. Look for both the ordinary and the extraordinary in these words:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly-minded,
for with blessing in his hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

Mary followed her path to Bethlehem and found many things to treasure and ponder in her heart, but especially the visit of ordinary shepherds.  On your journey to the foot of the cross you will follow the stories of Mary and Bethlehem, too.  As you do, ponder the extraordinary mysteries and love of God in every ordinary step.

Follow the Path!

[Use with Something to Ponder, day 34 of A Labyrinth Pilgrimage]

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