Being a Gabriel (by marriage), I nowadays just confirm my surname over the phone or in person by saying, ‘You know, like the Angel at Christmas …’ Not everyone does know, but most smile at least.
I like angels. A lot. The other day, I bought one of my friends (you know who you are!) a stained-glass angel similar to this one to hang next to her window.
My avatar is an angel too. A musical one who also happens to like blue and red (although personally I’m a string rather than a wind / brass player!)
I don’t believe in angels in any fuzzy or superstitious way (I don’t believe for instance that my own stained-glass angel is my ‘guardian angel’ or that it protects me in any way … it’s just glass and wire, albeit very pretty glass and wire!) But I do believe in angels …
Years ago, my mum and I were shopping in our local town. It was after my dad had died, so I must have been about 13 or 14. She didn’t drive, so we’d come in on the bus.
Anyway, we were in one of the chiller aisles (buying I can’t remember what – it was over a quarter of a century ago!) and my mum had left her handbag unattended in the top of her trolley (one reason I cringe when I see ladies doing the same now – PLEASE don’t!) She turned away for one minute to get something and when she turned back, the bag was gone. Stolen. We looked everywhere in case we could see someone with her bag, but they (whoever they were) would have been long gone.
We now had a trolley full of shopping but no means to pay for it. Embarrassing enough … we had to wheel it to the checkout and explain discreetly to the manager, who kindly asked his staff to check bins outside in case the thief had jettisoned the bag at least in one of them. However, more pressingly, we had no means to get home as no bag= no purse, and no purse = no bus fare home. We considered going to the local police station and asking them to get us home, as fortunately my mum had our keys in her pocket.
I can vividly remember standing outside the supermarket in the dusk, wondering what we were going to do, when a man approached us. He asked my mum, ‘Have you had your handbag stolen?’ She replied that she had and he held out some money – a note – enough to get us home.
The thing was, we had told no-one apart from the manager and we hadn’t made a big deal about it (like I said, it was embarrassing, as if we were trying to get away with something) so it was unlikely that anyone in the shop would have known our predicament. I did fleetingly wonder if it was the thief, but why would they risk the (slight) chance that they would be recognised and why would they give us back money in any case? So how did he know?
I wish I could say I looked into his eyes and could describe them in some other-worldly way: an icy, ethereal blue, for instance. I can’t. All I know is that I am convinced I met an angel that day. Either that, or God told someone going about their everyday business: ‘Go and give that woman and slightly grumpy teenager some money as they don’t have any to get home’ – and they obeyed Him. Either way. I’m not sure it matters which.
And that’s my point. My angel is a reminder to me of God’s presence with me, always, whether He sent an angel that day or whether He sent a person to be an angel (messenger of God) for us.
‘Angel’ or ‘angels’ are mentioned a number of times in the Bible (290 and 96 times respectively, having just searched!), normally when someone is in need, like Hagar, or God needs to get an urgent message to someone, like Gideon or Mary. We are also told in Hebrews 13 verse 2: ‘ Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.’ (NIV version.)
I do believe in angels as a real spiritual phenomenon, whether physically manifested or not. However, closer to home and more in our every day experience (!), we often talk about kind people being an ‘angel’, helping us, supporting us, encouraging us. So this year, in 2015, can we be angels for each other? You never know, we may be ‘loving angels instead’!
God bless you this coming year.
Pic 1: Courtesy of E-bay!