2019 Christmas Greetings
Making a hospital visit into the St. Catharines Hospital, I suddenly heard, “Hey, Preacher! How are you doing?” A big gruff looking fellow, sitting by the bedside of a patient I did not know had just greeted me. I had no idea who he was. At first, I thought the call was directed to someone else, perhaps out of sight behind me. No, he seemed to be calling out to me. I had no recollection of having met this man. I was at a loss and only waved as I went on by the room and down the hallway. The obvious explanation was one of mistaken identity, I could ignore this stranger.
But, I was drawn back to the room. I had been greeted by a stranger and had in turn ignored what might have been an invitation. I wanted to know who was calling me. As it turned out, it was a case of mistaken identity. He thought I was the minister on his neighbouring pastoral charge. When he realized that I was from Morgan’s Point and Forks Road East United Churches, he shared not one but two stories of his encounters with angels.
In recounting his first story, he spoke of the presence of an angel during the illness of his daughter. It was during the darkest moment of his life, as he sat by her bedside, helpless as she lay dying. At one point when his gaze shifted from his daughter, he looked up and saw the form of someone standing near the head of his daughters bed This presence emanated a peacefulness and comforting energy that encircled them. As he rested in that presence, he knew that he and his daughter were being held in the palm of God’s hand.
In recounting his second angel story, he talked of travelling with a tour group through the Andes Mountains in South America. At one point he became separated from his group. Once he realized that he had lost his group, panic set in. Amazingly, however, a stranger appeared and motioned to him that he would help him get off the mountain. So this man, placed his trust in the stranger, accepted his help, and was eventually reunited with his tour group at the base of the mountain. He was so glad to see them. When he turned back to thank the stranger, the stranger just seemed to have vanished.
These stories enlivened my day, and I left feeling as though perhaps and angel had brought the two of us together for the purpose of allowing him to share his story with another Christian. God would have us share our faith stories in most unlikely places with strangers who appear suddenly in our lives. Entertaining angels unaware! It does happen!
We find these messengers of God in the second chapter of Luke’s Gospel telling us: “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people; to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God.”
The great joy and promise of Christmas, is all wrapped up in the song from the angels; a child has come to us; “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!”
May you and your family experience the living presence of the Holy One with you as you celebrate during this most Holy and festive season.
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