Hear the angel
The biblical account of the birth of Christ Jesus demonstrates both the special place angels have in our individual lives and their impact in the world. We cannot see them, but they are present to guide us, opening the way to hope and limitless possibilities that may currently be unseen. Angels are speaking to each of us not only at Christmastime but in every season. Are we listening?
The nativity story contains many examples of these divine visitants, explained in Christian Science as not ethereal beings but “pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 298). The angel Gabriel appeared to a priest named Zacharias to assure him that he and his wife, Elisabeth—despite both being “now well stricken in years”—would have a child (see Luke 1:5–17). This child would later be known as John the Baptist.
The same angel spoke to Elisabeth’s cousin Mary and told her she would have a child to be known as “the Son of the Highest”—even though, as Mary said to the angel, she “[knew] not a man” (see verses 26–38). Joseph, the man Mary was engaged to, was next to hear an angel, who reassured him that although Mary was carrying a child and one that was not his own, he should still marry her, “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 1:18–25).
After Jesus’ birth, an angel proclaimed to shepherds tending their flocks that a Savior was born in Bethlehem; this angel was then joined by a host of others praising God (see Luke 2:8–14).
Then Joseph was warned by an angel to flee to Egypt with Mary and the newborn child to escape Herod’s decree to kill all the children two years old and under in Bethlehem and the vicinity. And later Joseph was told by an angel that it was safe to return to Israel with his family (see Matthew 2:13–23).
Angels are speaking to each of us not only at Christmastime but in every season.
In each case, the recipient was open to hearing the angel thought that came to them, and then obediently followed its guidance. The result was the birth and early protection of Jesus, who showed us the way of transformational Christly love, which brings healing and renewal.
We can be grateful that the angels in the Christmas story met with a receptive thought, dissolving the questions, fear, and resistance of human reasoning that might otherwise have been a barrier to these messengers of God, of divine Truth and Love. For instance, Mary was initially “troubled at [the angel’s] saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.” Joseph, “not willing to make [Mary] a public example, was minded to put her away privily.” The shepherds were at first “sore afraid” when the angel of the Lord spoke to them. But these angels, powerful and persistent, so illumined thought with the light of divine Love that reason and heart alike yielded to their leading. Pride, ignorance, and fear could not turn back or silence these divine messengers.
How might we experience an angel today? Perhaps an angel comes as a spiritual intuition to take some course of action, or as a light-filled “aha” moment of spiritual understanding that meets a specific need for healing.
At this Christmas season, these angel messengers may be telling us to put aside pride and self-righteousness and reunite with a loved one, or they may wash thought clean of preconceived notions of how a family gathering should occur. Or they may simply bring needed spiritual stillness to our day. Whatever their individual characteristics, angels alert human thought to man’s God-given spiritual and good nature illustrated in the scriptural declaration “God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27). This sense of existence as completely spiritual renews hope and silences the materialism of the world, which denies man’s spiritual identity and the healing influence of Christ, Truth, in human consciousness.
Whatever their individual characteristics, angels alert human thought to man’s God-given spiritual and good nature.
In the Christian Science textbook Mrs. Eddy writes, “A higher and more practical Christianity, demonstrating justice and meeting the needs of mortals in sickness and in health, stands at the door of this age, knocking for admission.” She then asks, “Will you open or close the door upon this angel visitant, who cometh in the quiet of meekness, as he came of old to the patriarch at noonday?” (Science and Health, p. 224). Are we as receptive to the angel thoughts that come to us as was the patriarch, Abraham, who, like Zacharias, received the hopeful but seemingly miraculous news that his wife would give birth to a child in old age, as God had promised (see Genesis 18:1–10).
Keeping my thought-door open to whatever angel messages come to me is integral to my daily life. As the nativity story so beautifully illustrates, every thought from God moves us forward, enabling us to love more broadly and to more trustingly let God lead us. The pure joy of celebrating the birth of the Christ child reminds us that God’s angels are always with us. When they are expectantly entertained, they open thought to the infinite possibilities available to all of us as God’s children.