A Christmas Mission
“An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:9,10).
Who would want to head out on a mission on Christmas? No doubt some troops have done that. We feel sorry for them. But, if the mission was critical, we would understand, and so would they.
Such a mission took place over two thousand years ago in the middle of the night. The logistics of that one would put our abilities to shame. For us, this would have been impossible.
The team took off from far beyond our solar system. Without maps or GPS, they vectored in on some pasture land on a dot of a planet called earth. Their mission was not to kill or destroy. They were simply to deliver a message. The target was no leader or ambassador. They headed for a group of unsuspecting, common shepherds. The message, however, was most uncommon. It contained the most critical news ever broadcast in human history. It would change the history of the world, and the fate of mankind.
They had slipped into Israeli airspace undetected. They could have remained that way. They usually do. But, this time with a burst of blinding light the leader addressed the terrified civilians. His first objective was to convince them that he was not going to harm them. That was not an easy job.
He quickly moved to defuse their terror. “Fear not!” “Good news!” “Great joy for everyone!” Thus he began.
We know the heart of this message carried from heaven to earth. We may have memorized it as a youngster. It went on to tell about a Child being born in nearby Bethlehem. It then moved to the awesome climax: he is the Savior; he is the Promised One; he is the Lord God.
About when it seemed they could absorb no more, the rest of the deployed team showed themselves. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests’” (Luke 2:13,14).
We wonder if those shepherds took their eyes off of the angels for even a second. We wonder if they blinked. We do know they obeyed, and headed for Bethlehem and the manger.
And, what happened to the angels? We don’t know. Did they move to stand guard over the manger? Did their deployment last until the baby escaped the bloody swords of Herod’s soldiers and was safe in Egypt? We don’t know.
But, it was one grand mission. It brought a message that still warms our hearts.
And, it could have only happened on Christmas.
God of glory, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, with those shepherds of old we listen to the astounding message, and marvel at the appearance of those angels who came on that mission the first Christmas Eve. Remind us that heavenly warriors still stand watch over us. Encourage us to act and speak in ways that do not distress them. Gladden our hearts again as that message spoken over the fields of Bethlehem is repeated like rolling thunder, bringing joy to countless souls.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military