Monday, December 8, 2008

"Christ by highest heaven adored . . ."

"then i looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. they encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. in a loud voice they were saying:
'worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!'"
(revelation 5:11-12)

tessa was sitting on my lap yesterday while i was looking through pictures to illustrate yesterday's reflection. some of her comments at what she saw were really cracking me up. we wondered why Jesus never had any clothes on. didn't he need a diaper? she was particularly concerned about a picture that showed the angels seemingly dangling above the stable. she noted how unsafe they were: "they could fall and get hurt." when she found out they were angels, it at least made sense to her but she was still concerned about their safety. then she wondered if they would be able to stand when they are on the ground. the mind of a three-year-old can be so fascinating.

it made me realize how little we actually know about the angels and heaven. what glimpses we get in the book of revelation may lead to more confusion rather than clarity. what we see in this passage is that the whole host of heaven joins together to praise and worship Jesus Christ.

the things is, we know that Jesus is worthy of praise and honor. but what we learn in revelation 5 is why he is worthy. as we celebrate christmas, we need always to keep in mind that Jesus didn't just come to reveal God in the flesh to us. he came with a distinct purpose: to die on the cross. Jesus came to be "the Lamb who was slain." this is what makes him worthy of praise from "the highest heaven."

as we prepare ourselves this advent season, let us not get so focused on the beautiful scene of the mother and child. let us remember the reason that all the angelic host praised his birth: Jesus was the only one who was able to accomplish our salvation. Jesus was born to die so that we could live. even though Jesus did not die for the angels, the angels worship Jesus for this reason. how much more reason do we who were saved through his death have to fall on our knees in worship.

"then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
'to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!'
the four living creatures said, 'amen,' and the elders fell down and worshiped."
(revelation 5.11-13 tniv)

for the kids: if you have any available, look at some of the famous paintings that have been made of the birth of Christ (i googled "nativity art" and found a variety). ask your children to pay particular attention to the angels in the paintings. ask them to think about what they are doing. why would the painters include angels in their paintings? talk about the angels worship of Jesus as described in revelation. make a lamb ornament using a white piece of felt or craft foam cut in a fluffy shape. glue cotton balls on the fleece, make a black face and black legs. if you like, make a crown for the Lamb to remember that Jesus is the Lamb who reigns.

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