HERITAGE: Purchased in 1943, this little angel decorated my parents’ first Christmas tree and every one thereafter for 57 years. Our Christmas angel was always placed on the very top of our tree—the crowning glory.  As the decades passed, she was lovingly repaired by Mom, and Dad re-wired her several times. Most recently, my sister-in-law Pam created new finery for her  from Mom’s 50th anniversary dress. This final makeover in 2005 fulfilled Dad’s wish to give me this portion of our family heritage. It was a lovely moment when I unwrapped my present and saw my childhood Christmas angel, lovingly restored, being passed to me. Of course, it was even lovelier to look up to see the love in Dad’s and Pam’s faces. This year our 77 year old Christmas angel was again given her place atop our tree to remind us all of the good news declared by the heavenly host outside Bethlehem on a particular night we now call Christmas.

HEAVEN: Luke 2:8-14 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

No one would be terrified by the angel that decorates our Christmas tree or think her part of an army. In years past she was illuminated by an tiny bulb, but it was not the “radiance of the Lord’s glory.” No, our little Christmas angel is a mere reminder of Jesus’ glorious birth announcement in the heavenlies.

In 2019, Dan and I had the privilege of standing in a dark, Bethlehem cave much like the one in which Mary gave birth to Jesus. I tried, but I could not fathom the vivid contrast witnessed by the shepherds between such a crude and humble birthplace for Jesus and the heavens alight with the Shekinah glory and the heavenly host of mighty angels. What is God’s message in this contrast? Basic is better?  Evidently, humility in this life will translate into glory in the heavenlies.

HOPE: What enables you and yours to keep Christmas well? Are there traditions that help you weather change and pass on your family heritage? I expect Christmas celebrations this year will be quite simple.  Father God has at his disposal—everything—yet he chose to have the Lord Jesus born in a cave with animals. Simple and wonderful. Whatever our status, we need not despair. Jesus Christ is our anchor of Hope in the storms of this life. Hallelujah! We have reason to rejoice. Our Messiah will return. Philippians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 1:14, Matthew 21:40, 1 Thessalonians 2:19