What Do Angels Have to Do With Christmas?

You see them on top of Christmas trees every year, but what do they have to do with Christmas? Why are angels a part of our annual holiday celebration?

If you are familiar with the Christian background of Christmas, you know that angels play a prominent role in the Christmas story about the birth of Jesus. The story, found in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke, includes three—possibly four—angelic appearances.

Christmas Angels First, the angel Gabriel appeared to a young virgin named Mary to tell her that she had been chosen by God. Mary was understandably startled by this appearance, but the angel calmed her fears. The angel then explained that, even though Mary was a virgin, God’s Holy Spirit would enable her to give birth to a son. This child would be the Son of God entering into creation.

Mary knew that this out-of-wedlock pregnancy could destroy her reputation and her relationship with her fiancé. It would greatly complicate her life. Yet Mary also understood the honor of being chosen and the importance of this child. So Mary consented to participate in God’s plan.

The second angelic appearance occurred when to tell Mary’s fiancé, Joseph, that Mary’s pregnacy was part of God’s plan. When Joseph had found out about Mary’s pregnancy and he knew he was not the father, he did not believe Mary’s story that though she was pregnent, she was somehow still a virgin. Nor did Joseph believed that the the angel Gabriel had appeared to Mary and explain that Mary’s child was part of God’s plan. According to Jewish law, Joseph could have subjected Mary to public ridicule or even had her stoned to death. Instead, he chose to protect Mary’s reputation, yet he still broke off their engagement, but quietly.

Then an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and explained that Mary’s pregnancy was part of God’s plan. Mary had been faithful Joseph and was still a virgin. Mary had been chosen to give birth to a very special child who would bring a spiritual message of love and hope to humanity. Joseph was to go forward with the wedding and name the child “Jesus.” Joseph would go on and do as the angel instructed.

The next appearance of an angel took place in the fields outside of the town of Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. An angel appeared among a group of shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. The angel explained to the shepherds that the child was the Savior, and then told these shepherds how to find the child. During Biblical times shepherds were considered to be people of a very low social class, often being treated as social outcasts. So, it is note worthy that God made ‘the least amony you’ the very first to learn about the birth of Jesus (who would later be known as the Good Shepherd).

As soon as the angel delivered the news to the shepherds, a number of other angels appeared as well. They all joined together in praising God and proclaiming “peace on earth.” Once the angels were gone, the shepherds went into the town and found Jesus, just as the angel had foretold.

A possible fourth angelic appearence take place involving the Magi, or Wise Men as they are commonly known. These Wise Men had traveled from a distant land, following a star that they believed would lead them to a newborn king. As they passed by Jerusalem, they made a stop at the palace of King Herod to ask if Herod was aware of this birth. Herod was not, but as soon as he heard about it he decided it was necessary to kill the child in order to protect his authority and Roman rule among the Jews. Hiding his true motives, Herod told the Wise Men to proceed with their search to find the child and worship him. When they had found the child, they were to tell Herod so he could go and worship him, too.

The biblical narrative does not specifically say it was an angel that appeared to the Wise Men, but it does say that the Wise Men were warned in a dream not to return to Herod. Since it was also in a dream that an angel appeared to Joseph, it is reasonable to assume another angel or spiritual messenger had appeared to these Wise Men in order to protect them and the divine story about to unfold. However the warning was delivered, the Wise Men chose to return to their homeland by a different route.

Psychic Ivy

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Because of these pivotal appearances of angels in the biblical Christmas story, angels retain a prominent place in our holiday celebration today. Next time you see an angel on a treetop, remember the vital role angels played in the story of Christ. For many today, angels continue to play the role of delievering messages and providing divine protection.

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