Pastor Don's Journal Articles
"Angels Bending Near the Earth"
My sermon last Sunday was about Angels -- the various things they do in heaven and on earth and, on that first Christmas just outside Bethlehem, the singing that they did. Angels are special, created beings, not people who die and go to heaven (with wings as a reward). There are millions of them. They minister before the throne of God and also serve God's people in many, many ways. In the Christmas story, they are brilliant messengers of good news!
And on Sunday, it just so happened that some of those angels were bending near our First Baptist Church of Alexandria! Were you aware of them?
1. These heavenly creatures know something about how to worship (Isaiah 6, Revelation 5) and they drop in from time to time to see how we are managing it. If it is sincere, glorious enough, and not thrown together but the very best we have to offer. They had to have been pleased with the morning services, as we prayed, dedicated a new baby, honored a departing pastor, sang and preached. Then...Sunday night's “First Family Christmas" must have reminded them of heaven! That's surely what I was thinking at the sight and sound of 325 singers and musicians leading a full sanctuary in majestic praise. We rarely get to see the entire music ministry at one time, in one place -- but oh, what a thrill it was. The standouts, of course, were the children singing solos: Landry Elliff and 17 year old Leia Parker-Deck. We may not have had a "tree" this year, but we had a night of worship every bit as wonderful! A special thanks to everyone who was a part of it.
2. Angels are ministering spirits (Hebrews 1:14) who come alongside us when we need some help and encouragement. One of them was in the Garden of Gethsemane with Jesus as He prayed and cried there (Luke 22:43) -- suffering just as much with that “cup" as He would hours later on the cross. I sensed their presence at church on Sunday as we shared the news about Suzanne McGee's declining health and prayed yet again for her and our worship pastor, Roger. There was a sadness in the air, but Christmas joy still managed to overcome it as we refused to give in to despair. Her days, and ours, have always been in God's hands, and we bow to His sovereignty. "The Angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him...” promises Psalm 34:7, so we know that even if the immediate situation is grim, the ultimate future is going to be glorious.
3. Angels are exceedingly intelligent and wise, and they know about a lot of things that baffle us. But one thing they cannot fully grasp is the salvation that you and I have experienced. Having never been lost, they cannot understand what it really means to be saved. “Angels long to look into these things” (1 Peter 1:12). Is it too big a stretch to think that maybe they were listening intently as I preached my sermon on Sunday morning? Taking note even? They listen, too, when you tell a friend about what Jesus has done for you.
4. CS Lewis once said, "There are times in our lives when the angels of heaven hold their breath to see which way we will go". Watching from their celestial balcony or coming down closer, they wait to see what we will do with this one life we have been given, these talents and resources, large or small, that God has entrusted to us. Whether or not we will seize the opportunities He has put before us as a church -- or shrink back. How we will deal with our great sorrows, too.
Angels show up regularly, unannounced, at First Baptist Alexandria. And, as on Sunday, I am glad to welcome them every time. When they say, as they always must, "Fear not" -- well, that's a message I can certainly take to heart. Especially this Christmas.