Sermon at Lessons and Carols

Christmas Eve 2012

Angels are very prominent in the Readings of this Service. These are very high ranking Angels too! Whether The Angel of the LORD or Gabriel, these are Cherubim which guard God’s very throne. These High ranking Angels appear in six of the Lessons read this evening.

Years ago I took a course about angels. We learned that angels are always active in God’s work in the world, but that they are particularly active and the highest ranking ones are active, when God is doing a BIG NEW thing in his plan to save the world.

*Think back with me.

The first reading tonight was the account of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden. Then and there, God promised to save them by sending a Son, His Son, through the woman! Right after that, the Lord drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden and He placed cherubim in the garden to guard the way to the tree of life. By guarding the way to the tree of life, these angels function as messengers of God’s punishment, but also of His grace. They barricade the way to the tree of life because eternal life is no longer found in an earthly paradise. Adam and Eve must look to the promised seed of the woman, the Messiah, who will open the way to the paradise of God. The angels turn the attention of man to the need for a Savior. They kept Adam and Eve away from the tree and out of the immediate presence of God. If they had not done so, Adam and Eve would have been consumed by the wrath of the LORD.

Years later, in the second Lesson, when God renewed his promises to save, he made a covenant with Abraham promising salvation. This was announced by The Angel of the Lord, and it was the Angel of The Lord who commanded the sacrifice of Abraham’s only Son and then rescued Isaac from the knife saying: “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

The Third and Fourth lessons tell what God’s salvation through his Son, will mean for the world and where he will be born.

The Fifth lesson tells about the Arch-angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she is the woman who will give Birth to the Savior. Mary then rejoices greatly and accepts the mission of God.

This was going to be a big problem for Mary’s betrothed husband Joseph, so in our Sixth Lesson the same Arch-angel eased removed his doubt and concern by announcing that this is God’s doing for the Salvation of the world.

Finally, in the Seventh Lesson, the angel of the Lord together with a whole army of angels announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds near Bethlehem and they sang: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

These are intensely frequent appearances and messages of God’s angels because God’s long ago promised salvation has come!

And that is what Saint John tells us in the Ninth Lesson. The Creator of the universe has come down from heaven, has become a human, born of a woman, to make a way for us all to come into God’s presence in Paradise. He has come to destroy our darkness by dying in our place in sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins, the darkness of sin and hell and to make a way for us to be saved, a way back to God’s fellowship in Paradise.

This salvation, this Christmas message of the angels is for you.  You are included in the word “all.”

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This is the message of the Angels…and it is for you!

Blessed, merry Christmas!