Lions and Eagles and Oxen - oh my!
Years ago, I dressed my kids up as angels for our family Christmas card. Their costumes included wings, and halos, and glitter. There were two versions of their angel poses. One soft and "cherub" like and the other rather silly. We used both in our card. Even the outtakes were printed on the back.
But you know what, my idea of angels was all wrong. I suppose I had been influenced for years by greeting cards and folk stories. A few years ago while reading the Christmas story in The Bible, I landed on that verse that says that the shepherds were terrified when they saw the angel. That really struck me because I'm guessing that a soft winged cherub in the sky might freak you out a bit but I don't think it would terrify you.
I am no biblical scholar, that is for sure, but I like to dig for answers and so I set out to look into this. The short answer is that our traditional imagery of angels is all wrong. The heavenly beings that the Bible calls angels don't even have wings. The ones that do have wings are the ones called cherubim and they also have faces like lions, eagles, oxen, and men. Good grief! Try putting that on a Christmas card.
My point is, we can't assume that our western traditions are accurate. What if our beliefs about something are confused or completely wrong? What if our traditions of peace, goodwill, and "Christmas Spirit" is completely missing something. To believe the true Christmas story is to believe that God himself chose to come to Earth as the Christ child Jesus. Not understanding the significance of that…hmmm THAT is terrifying.
So, do like I did. Dig a little. Ask God to unpack your traditional thoughts and replace them with His Truth.
Luke 2:9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified,