I’m normally fairly serious on this blog, but I’m not a totally serious person. I love to joke around and have fun so today, with Christmas just two days away, I decided to share a story I made up for a sermon once (yes, I actually used this in a sermon – I can’t remember how though).
Reading the Christmas story, you sometimes wonder about the details that were missed.
- How did Joseph’s friends react when they found out that Mary was pregnant just weeks after the wedding? Plenty of good-natured ribbing about his virility I’m sure.
- What about Elizabeth’s reaction when her husband came home unable to speak. Did she sing a song of joy to the Lord that she would no longer have to listen to him gripe and moan about working conditions at the temple?
- And how about those angels? What really happened up there with the shepherds?
It’s the angels that I was thinking about today. The bible narrative kind of makes it sound like the whole thing was perfectly choreographed. Gabriel goes and gives the announcement and then at the perfect moment, the choir appears and sings the song they’ve been rehearsing for the last nine months…. or did it maybe happen another way?
Angels with Bolt Cutters
“Gabriel”, Father God called, “I have something very important to talk to you about.”
“Yes, my King?”
“You have done well with the messages I have given you to deliver so now I am entrusting you with the most important message of all. In seven month’s time, Jesus will be born. The savior of the world will have arrived. He is to be born in Bethlehem and will be laid in a manger. You are to announce his birth to the shepherds on the hills above the town. I have told you this now so that you have time to write and rehearse your own speech to the shepherds. You have earned this honor!”
Gabriel went away literally glowing with pride. What an incredible honor! To be the one to announce the birth of the Savior of the World!
Practice, practice, practice…
The next seven months flew by and Gabriel spent many hours alone in seclusion practicing and refining his speech. He wanted it to be just perfect.
The other angels were desperate to know what he was doing alone for all those hours but he wouldn’t tell them. God had entrusted this to him and him alone and he wouldn’t let anyone else ruin the performance for him.
Finally, the big day came. Heaven was all astir with the wonder and excitement of the event – and Gabriel was as excited as all the others.
The greatest event in the history of the world
He tried to calm his nerves but the magnitude of what was unfolding down below unbeknown to anyone on the planet but Mary and Joseph was almost too much for him.
He quietly slipped away in the middle of the festivities and went through his speech one last time.
He was ready. He was sure of it.
No-one saw him slip through the gates and head down to the hills above Bethlehem – and nobody noticed him slip a chain through the gates, padlocking them tightly shut.
No-one that is, until Michael, who was leading the conga line through the partying throngs, realized that Gabriel was nowhere to be found.
The revelers came to an abrupt halt as the mighty warrior asked, “Hey, where’s Gabe? Has anyone seen the big guy?”
The search for him was cut short as someone looked down and saw him readying himself to appear to the shepherds.
“Hey, look, there he is!” they shouted, “He’s making another announcement!”
“No fair!” Another angel quickly shouted. “I want to give Glory to God in front of the humans too!”
As one they rushed to the gates ready to follow Gabriel and join in with him but his cunning plan worked and they were trapped inside. They struggled and pulled at the chains as Gabriel appeared to the Shepherds and began his long-rehearsed speech.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy…” they heard him tell the terror-stricken sheep herders.
A booming voice from the back of the crowd snapped their attention away from what was happening down below and back to the task at hand, “Get out of the way, coming through!”
A big, burly angel quickly pushed his way through the crowds, a huge pair of bolt cutters in his hand.
He reached the gate and with one massive, crunching squeeze of the shears he snapped the chain in half.
The angels pushed forward, surging through the gate and heading as fast as they could go to that little hillside where Gabriel was just finishing his speech, “…and lying in a manger.”
They didn’t wait to check that he was done, there was nothing that could contain their excitement any longer and, as one, they revealed themselves to the shepherds and sang,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Gabriel thought for a moment that he was going to be angry with them for literally gate-crashing his big moment but he had to grudgingly admit that he had finished his speech and this was an event far bigger and more momentous than anything they had ever seen before.
He couldn’t hold it against them, this was too big of a cause for celebration, and so he joined in with them praising God for his never failing love, mercy and grace.
… at least, that’s how I imagine it happened!
23 Reply to “Angels with Bolt Cutters”
Michael leading a conga line! An angel who's big and burly! Peter, this is delightful!
The conga line wasn't in the original telling of the story (as I told it) it just appeared there as I typed last night.
I left it in though because my fingers seemed to know what they were doing!
I will have to share this with our rector who likes a good story not of her own making.
I have quite a visual image as I read your words.
Thank you, Maureen,
Go right ahead and share it, I hope it can bring a smile to some faces!
Nice, I can imagine quite well how excited the angels must have been.
I think they must have been having a PARTY!!!
You have a very active imagination! Thanks for making me smile 🙂
You're welcome, Mark.
Wow I enjoyed that as much as Max Lucado's "An Angel's Story" – thank you & Merry Christmas. So was that the same bolt cutters used to "set the captives free?"
I don't think I've ever been compared to Max Lucado before. It's quite an honor…. for me of course, I'm not sure he'd feel the same way! 🙂
Y'know, it may have been the 'set the captives free' bolt cutters, but I have a feeling that God handles that personally and I don't think that any angel, no matter how big and burly he is would dare borrow God's bolt cutters!
I was wondering why the way you narrated the story sounded familiar until Doug mentioned Max Lucado. I agree with him. Great post Peter, I was smiling when I read it.
I've not read this Max Lucado book you guys are talking about… in fact I may have only read one Lucado book in my life!
It makes me want to read it though!
Conga line! Excellent! I hope they'll let me join in when I get there…Do you think they like the song "Hot, Hot, Hot…" by Buster Poindexter?
You just never know, Helen…. 🙂
Ah, Peter. You wrote one awesome tale there. Had me smiling right from start to finish.
However, I also caught that you say Mary was discovered pregnant "after" the wedding? Huh? She was discovered pregnant after the betrothal, BEFORE the wedding. There was certainly no joking going on.
I can't help mention this because Joseph is one of the Bible heroes I most admire. He not only sought to protect Mary when he thought her unfaithful to him, but he then brought her home immediately without being intimate with her. How many men are capable of either?
Not that I mention this to take anything away from Gabriel. I look forward to meeting both heroes. You too, for that matter. 😀
Do you think she let everyone else know she was pregnant right away?
She wouldn't have begun to show for a few months, plenty of time for the wedding to happen and people not question the timing?
Betrothals lasted a year or more. There was no physical intimacy during the betrothal period. Three explainations for pregnancy during betrothal were Mary's infidelity, rape, or Joseph had failed to behave honorably. The latter two were a smear to Joseph.
If there had been a wedding before the pregnancy became known, then Joseph would have been intimate with Mary. Scripture is clear that there was no intimacy until after Jesus' birth. Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born, in fulfillment of Scripture.
A little known detail of the wedding ceremony was that the celebration did not begin until the groom announced to the guests that the marriage had been physically consummated. (No pressure on the bride, eh?) Also, AFTER the angel spoke with him, Joseph took Mary into his home. There might have been a wedding at that point, but it was after knowledge of the pregnancy.
The bible narrative doesn't explicitly suggest that it was general knowledge that she was pregnant before he "took her into his home as his wife". It says she was "found to be pregnant" (NIV) but that doesn't necessarily mean that everyone knew.
Once she was in his home "as his wife" intimacy would have been expected. WE know that there was no intimacy, but nothing in the narrative suggests that anyone else knew they weren't doing the deed.
The fact that it doesn't seem that everyone knew she was pregnant before she moved in as his wife and the fact that he probably kept it quiet that they weren't being intimate led me to think that his friends would have had no reason to think that the child was anything but his.
I'm happy to be wrong though.
I really should be doing other things, but just can't resist …
Whether it was general knowledge or not before Mary lived with Joseph, it would be plenty evident at some point that pregnancy occurred before it should have.
In Jewish culture, it would have been almost unthinkable for Joseph to assume paternity for a child that wasn't his, absent some type of bribery. So once he took Mary home, everyone would believe Jesus to be his son. (Interesting ramnifications for his own firstborn son. But I digress.) Noteworthy is that the Jews repeatedly insinuate in John 8 that Jesus was of illegitimate birth. So I would guess some rumors persisted of question over Jesus' paternity.
Blasphemy! Snort! Just kidding. That was fun. Thanks, Peter and Merry Christmas!