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by Dan Peeler
Minister for Children and Families

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1.28

A Word of Hope
How many hosts of angels do you suppose have you have seen so far this season? When Luke writes about the heavenly host, he is using a Greek term that means a whole army, or a countless number of these supernatural beings. The writer of the Gospel of Luke includes a number of interactions between angels and humans. In Luke 1:11, an angel informs the priest Zechariah that he and his wife Elizabeth will have a child in their old age. The child turns out to be John the Baptist, the herald of the Messiah. In Luke 1:26 the angel Gabriel appears with his famous Annunciation to the teenage Mary of Nazareth to whom he proclaims the birth of the Christ. Then, in a spectacular finale, the shepherds are given their good tidings by the host of angels, or a whole sky-full of them, in Luke 2:10.

Ever since then, angels have been a favorite icon of the season, even to the point that armies of them surround us in malls, on Christmas cards and in glowing plastic yard art. On the fourth and final Sunday of Advent, we lit the Angel’s Candle or Candle of Love. The principle purpose of angels in scripture has been as messengers of God and it is most appropriate that the message that sums up all the other Advent weeks is the proclamation of love. In order to experience the Hope, Peace and Joy that the other weeks celebrated, we must ultimately understand that the coming of the Christ is all about love.

Luke is so overwhelmed by the announcement of the incarnation of God’s love in the world, that he enlists a whole army to carry it. He would probably be a bit puzzled as to the identity of our own winged yard decor since Greek Scripture angels are never described as having wings, but he would understand that we still make our best effort to somehow depict indescribable beings who deliver an unfathomable message to the world: No matter who we are; advanced in age or teenager, perhaps even ragged and forgotten shepherds, we are highly favored and this spectacle of love still embraces us; all of us.

May I recognize your messengers and affirm your love.

But if you remain silent, who can condemn you? If you hide your face, who can see you? Job 34.29

A Word of Hope
Have you finished your costume yet? Halloween is just two days away and the parties have already begun. Do you ever wonder why so many of us go to extremes every year to dress ourselves or our children as super heroes, grotesque movie monsters or even scarier politicians? The “Hallow” in “Halloween” means “holy”, so how does all this fuss relate to a Holy Evening? The first Hallow-e’en costume parties originated in the Middle Ages, but they were far from parties as we know the term.

European villagers were obsessed with possession in those dismal times of plagues and poverty. Since demonic influence and possession seemed to them to be the most logical and probable cause for all their woes, the idea came about that dressing up in frightening-looking outfits and making lots of noise was the best course to frighten the demons away. The practice was encouraged by the church leaders who also told them that All Hallow’s Eve, the evening before the venerated Feast of All Saints, was the night the spirits of evil were at their most active level, doing whatever was necessary to snatch people’s very souls and thoroughly defile the upcoming worship events. So, everyone put on their masks and rattled their chains to literally scare the devil out of each other and send the demons back to the pits where they belonged.

This is not likely the reason you or some of your friends might be wearing a costume today, but it is not surprising that at this time of year much of the LGBTQ community eagerly embraces the opportunity to play dress up on the streets. Few believe in possession, but most have been touched by oppression. Many are still forced to wear a mask in their work or worship places year round. On this night, wearing a mask is their own choice, not somebody else’s. They are freed from playground mentality rules such as “don’t ask, don’t tell” to noisily proclaim their real identities and maybe drive out a few of their own demons of guilt and shame. And if that is the case, maybe it’s a holy evening after all.

Help us to know that we are all hallow in your sight.

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Childcare is provided at all Sunday and Wednesday services.

9 & 11 a.m. – Sunday Worship
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