Sunday, December 24, 2017

Luke 2:1-20

"The Night Heaven Declared Peace on Earth"
MasterPiece Church
Christmas Eve -- 24 December 2017

“Glory to God in heaven,
and on earth peace among
those whom he favors.”
~ Luke 2:14 (CEB)

You might think that given their place in the heavenly ranks that the angels would have an inside scoop on what God is up to. But that's not entirely true. Angels have been known to get things wrong -- terribly wrong at times.

Now, of course, they knew God was up to something. There was a lot of buzz in the capitol and there had been several recent dispatches centered around a lovely young human woman. Something was definitely happening. But that was all privileged in detail.

Besides, no one ever quite knows what God is up to. He only reveals so much...

That, of course, did not stifle the speculation. And if you asked the average angel on the street he would have told you that in his educated opinion God was about to launch a judgment offensive.

I mean if you looked at the signs it made a lot of sense. The humans were in political turmoil under oppressive dictators. Ordinary people lived morally indifferent lives. The religious were the biggest hypocrites around. And everyone dreamed of getting rich -- even if it meant displacing vulnerable people and shortchanging both the poor and the creation to get there.

So the off-duty angels -- soldiers of the heavenly host -- would sit around the pub drinking celestial brew and speculating on what kind of battle tactics the commander would utilize in the offensive against the evil of the world.

Old Arnie was about to say that it would be like that time they opened the skies and flooded the earth during the days of Noah. But his memory kicked in just in time to catch himself. God had promised he wouldn’t do that again.

But Anders, an experienced yet low ranking angel, jumped in, stating that he was fairly certain it would look something like that time when they unleashed plagues and death on the Egyptians before the Exodus.

“Yeah,” everyone at the table piped in. “That was pretty cool. No doubt that God has something along that line in mind.”

But a couple of the younger experts at the far end of the table raised their voices -- “NO WAY! Have you seen how much worse things have become since then? The world has fallen into chaos. The leaders are self-obsessed uncaring narcissists and to make matters worse -- their subjects -- their very victims are so blind that they support the corrupt regime thinking they’ll somehow get rich, too. It’s a greedy hell hole down there. And God will most certainly unleash a bloodbath unlike anything ever before seen. History can no longer be used to predict the future.”

So a couple of hours later when the heavenly host was summoned for assembly most of them showed up in full battle gear -- even though the gear wasn’t a part of the order.

But the captain commanded them to stand down and stow the gear -- “You don’t need that stuff -- not now -- maybe never again. We’re on choir duty backing up a messenger.”

“Sir,” a sergeant jumped in. “But what if the infidels don’t like the message and turn on the messenger? Shouldn’t we be ready to protect him?”

“Don’t worry,” the captain responded. “The messenger will be meeting a group of shepherds out at night watching over their flocks. Believe me, these guys are no threat. They’re about the only ones left who don’t fancy delusions of power. They watch sheep!”

Then the captain handed out music for a quick run through.

They warmed up and started to sing --“Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

Arnie quietly turned to his buddies -- “Can you believe this? ‘Peace to the earthlings. They have found favor…’ How can this be? This is a whole new era -- a new way of doing battle. God is launching peace against the bloody rebels! The only way that will ever work is if he shows up in person to lead the charge. This is going to get interesting.”

Then they all loudly joined the reprise -- one more time before boarding transport -- “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

And believe it or not -- that is the good news.

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