The Christmas story is replete with angels, those mysterious celestial beings known to Christians, Jews and Muslims. Artists and lyricists have been fascinated with angels, deeply influencing our impression of these creatures the three sacred books describe somewhat sketchily. With Christmas just around the corner it is appropriate to identify three modern day scenes involving various concepts of angels:
The first “sighting” comes from the pages of the Wall Street Journal in a recent story about “angel investors.” I confess to never previously having heard of such a group of persons, but the word “angel” in the headline caught my attention. An angel investor is a well-heeled person who may be open to dropping a huge bundle of cash into the lap of an enterprising entrepreneur preparing to start a new company. Can’t get a loan from a bank? Find an angel with deep pockets. This particular story was accompanied by a photo of these hungry, hopeful entrepreneurs trying to convince some rather skeptical, unconvinced looking angel investors of the worthiness and financial returns in their projects.
The second “sighting” cropped up, in typical angelic surprise, at the layaway counter of an Indianapolis Wal-Mart earlier this month when a bereaved woman in her mid 40s with a purse full of cash paid the layaway orders for as many as 50 persons before handing out $50 bills to other startled customers on her way out of the store. The store manager said “It was like an angel fell out of the sky and appeared in our store.” And this is not the only store where such angels are appearing. It is happening in Kansas, Michigan, Iowa and Montana. What a wonderful Christmas surprise and the kind where any ordinary citizen can become angelic.
This season’s most dramatic and powerful angel sighting, however, is taking place in Juarez, Mexico, one of the deadliest places in our hemisphere. A drug war has led to brutal murders every week, with the terrorized public half-convinced that the police are also on the take. Everybody seems powerless to stop the violence. But now a small congregation called Psalm 100 Church is taking to the streets. The youth group of this church raised enough money to create some impressive sets of angel wings. When a drug related murder happens in Juarez these teens immediately head to that neighborhood, no matter how violent or dangerous it might be. Then they strap on their angel wings, don white robes and stand as a silent witness in that neighborhood holding signs that announce, “Assassin Repent, Christ Loves You” and “Enough, Kidnaper! Look for God!” These angels hope to influence a violent society where every other effort has failed, and they may very well succeed. As the angel Gabriel announces to Mary in Luke 1, “With God nothing is impossible.”
In each scene ordinary humans assumed the angelic role. Can you do so this season?