Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Lesson Of The Christmas Angel

All around us, there is evidence of God's love for us. During the holidays, the spirit of the Christmas season sometimes touches us in ways that are profound. Many people rush about making preparations for Christmas and in doing so, sometimes lose the intended meaning of the gift God gave us at Christmas. He frequently sends reminders of His love for us and the hope that comes because of His son Jesus Christ. The original Christmas gift came from God, our Heavenly Father. It is found in John 3:16:

"For God so loved the world, 
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life."

This morning I had a sweet experience that was one of those gifts of the season which reminded me of God's deep love for me. It happened so quickly that I might have missed it but I believe God did not want me to miss it. I believe He wanted to bless me with one of those "tender mercies" that come from Him, as only He can give.

I sat down in a corner chair in my living room to eat an apple. This morning was beautiful with fresh fallen snow from yesterday's storm. The sun shone brightly on the gleaming white snow making my front rooms feel peaceful and lovely. I looked up at the Christmas tree I put up yesterday and had to do a double take at my tree topper. Yesterday I couldn't find the little Christmas angel I usually use as a topper for the longest time but after much searching, I finally found it last night, much to my relief.
Emma made this little paper plate angel when she was in kindergarten. I have always loved it. When I went to put it on the tree last night I thought to myself, "This is really mangled and worn out,." It's bent in all the wrong places. It's torn. It's ripped. It doesn't fit on the tree right. Even when I tried to bend it into a a shape for the top of the tree, years of being just a paper plate made by a kindergartener makes it a challenge every year to get it to look right. I have always liked it though and it holds special meaning for me. I love the smile on the angel. I love the innocence on the angel's face. I love the glitter, even though it's mostly worn off. I love the missed matched colors and I love the halo. I love that Emma made it for me.

As I sat in the chair eating my apple,
 I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
I was so dumbstruck for the first 30 seconds as tears came to my eyes, I couldn't move. I quickly thought, however, that I had better run and get my camera to capture the moment. This picture doesn't show it as brilliantly as I saw it, but the sun shone through my windows casting its light on just my little worn out Christmas angel. She was BEAUTIFUL. She glowed. I have never seen her look more perfect. She really looked like a heavenly angel! It is clear to see from this picture from the square of light behind the tree that the sun really did shine a little spotlight on my angel...just for me I think. That was a tender mercy for many reasons, some of them are too personal to mention here.
The light began to move quickly and I snapped as many pictures as I could because I saw the shadow moving across the angel starting from the left side. I knew the light would soon be gone.
I thought about many things in those five or six minutes.

I thought about the lessons that angels teach us. They declare the good news of Christ's mission.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”Luke 2:8-11 

Angels reflect the glory of the Lord because they dwell in His presence. Their shining light and message of hope brings peace to unsuspecting people. Just like Moroni sits atop our many temples representing the good news of the restored gospel brought to the earth again in the latter days; my shining little angel heralded a reminder of good tidings of great joy for me this morning.

I think the take away lesson for me was the simple reminder that God is a God of miracles. He can take any worn out, tattered, scarred, ripped up, battered, troubled life and make it shine beautifully because of Christ's atonement. That's why He sent His Son into this world, to atone for our sins and be the mediator between us and Him so that we can live with Him again someday after we die. My little paper plate angel needed the extra boost of the sun's rays to reveal its hidden glory, so to speak. We are the same way. Without Christ, we can never heal, grow, be redeemed, or have our true nature as God's children revealed to us and shine as lights to a darkened world as He would have us do.

God blessed us to know what heaven looks like by giving us a glimpse of it. This is what what we hope to achieve one day living in His presence because of Christ. We read about it in Revelation 21:22:
“And the city had no need of the sun,
neither the moon, to shine in it:
for the glory of God did lighten it,
and the Lamb is the light thereof.”

I love this scripture. We won't need the sun in heaven (the Celestial kingdom of God). God's glory is so bright, it is the only light needed there. His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Lamb referred to here in this scripture. God's work and glory is "to bring to pass the eternal life and immortality of man" Moses 1:39. He does that because of Christ's atonement for us. Heaven is lighted by God's glory, the eternal life of His children (us), accomplished because of His gift to us, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We are reminded of this every Christmas.

My little paper plate angel looked really beautiful this morning when the sun's rays revealed her hidden worth.
Eventually, the sun moved on to illuminate other things. My little angel doesn't glow anymore but I will long remember this lesson. God's love is all encompassing. Christ's atonement is for all of us. God wants us all back with Him. We can make it...because of Christ. He knows our hidden worth to God.

As for my Emma, she blogged a picture this morning which made me smile. She went from being a sweet kindergartener who made me my little paper plate angel, to a really wonderful teacher.
 (I obscured her last name for her privacy)
She's brightening up the lives of middle school teenagers who are blessed to have her.  I am blessed to be her mother. I know her hidden worth far exceeds employee of the month. She is my child for all eternity, no matter how old she gets....all because of God's gift to both us, His Son Jesus Christ. My little shining paper plate angel heralded that wonderful reminder to me this morning. 

All around us this Christmas season
 are reminders of God's love
 and gifts in our lives. 
What reminder did God give you today?

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