O, Holy Night

Before we meet again, my Advent Calendar will have finished its meander through the gospel narratives of the birth of Jesus. Without making a big fuss, it will have skipped lightly over the key events: so lightly that it’s easy to miss their meaning, their force.

Then, as now, governments liked to tell people what to do and figured that their own administrative convenience was what mattered.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus
that the whole world should be enrolled.
And all went to be enrolled,
each to his own city.
– Dec 06/o7, Luke 2:1 – 2:3

Then, as now, people got by on too little and strangers were not always welcomed.

There was no room for them in the inn.
– Dec 09, Luke 2:7

Then, as now, some folks had work that didn’t stop for the weekend or for the weather.

And there were in the same country shepherds watching,
and keeping the night watches over their flocks.
– Dec 16, Luke 2:8

None of these things seemed worthy of special notice: Then, as now, life was just like that. Coming back to the calendar’s form of the nativity story after several years, however, one other thing struck me that the storyteller didn’t deem worthy of special notice: angels.

An angel appeared to Mary.

The Angel Gabriel was sent by God into a city of Galilee,
called Nazareth.
– Dec 01, Luke 1:26

Angels appeared to the shepherds.

The Angel of the Lord stood by them and said . . .
this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.
– Dec 17/18, Luke 2: 9, 11

Then, but not now. Somehow, angels seem to have stopped appearing to us: I myself have not seen any nor have I heard any recent reports thereof. Maybe that’s because there are none. Maybe that’s because I don’t expect to see them.

Some things have to be believed to be seen.
– Ralph Hodgson

However the message arrives, may this Christmas Eve bring us all a thrill of hope. May this weary world rejoice.

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10 Responses to O, Holy Night

  1. Thom says:

    Loved this entry.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. Alison Uhrbach says:

    I’m thinking it all depends on your interpretation of “angel”?? and interpretation of the Bible writings of the time. Have to admit, I’m a bit discouraged these days (past few years?) at the scarcity of “angels” – but I think they are out there, in people we see every day, and in thoughts that pop into our minds, or the minds of others. Kind of the same as “miracles” – it’s how you define them. Just my thoughts on this snowy morning.

  3. barbara carlson says:

    Some things have to be believed to be seen.
    – Ralph Hodgson

    When asked why she made so many public appearances, Queen Eliz II said,
    “I have to be seen to be believed.”

  4. Tom Watson says:

    Two women I know claim to see angels all the time. I haven’t. Not ever.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – It might be (at least in part) as Alison suggests – a matter of definition or our understanding of the terms. I’ve certainly never seen an angelic host in the sky, but I’ve had some angelic interactions.

  5. Mary Gibson says:

    There are angels all among us…


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