Audio version read by the author – a seven minute listen

I saw a headline in passing today about a commission tasked to investigate UAP’s (unidentified aerial phenomena). There is a curiosity and fascination about such things as we hear the report of pilots witnessing wingless objects performing incredible maneuvers in the sky. Reading that news story came on the heels of my time in Luke 1 and 2, and I chuckled as I thought about the government frantically gathering a commission to study the numerous sightings of extra terrestrial beings interacting with people in Israel back then. Very strange indeed – an ordinary but devout young woman, her fiancee, an elderly priest, stinky shepherds, foreigners – all were stunned by creatures that came from an unfamiliar realm with a prophesied message. It was terrifying for some, puzzling for others, but certainly memorable for all. 

Heaven could not contain itself! Their King had inserted Himself into the disgraced human race. The spiritual realm was ecstatic in their proclamation of the arrival of their omnipotent Creator invading humanity as a frail human baby. How utterly improbable although foretold. How amazingly fantastic although illogical. They had delighted in the prospect of mankind’s redemption despite the irreversible fall of some their own. We live mostly oblivious to the activity of a huge realm of beings who serve the same God we do, but with different perception and understanding. They look to the church for clues for what God is doing. I’ll bet it is a confusing message for them now considering the current condition of the church.

Then we hear contemporary stories of people helped by some stranger who afterwards disappears. It is intriguing to hear such accounts. I, for one, would love to see an angel, although I am persuaded that I have been protected by some unseen force on several occasions. I wonder if I would be afraid and fall down before them as is so often the case in Scripture. It would be an amazing experience!

I am curious about those shepherds. These guys were not highly regarded but looked down upon. “As a class shepherds had a bad reputation…More regrettable was their habit of confusing ‘mine’ with ‘thine’ as they moved about the country. They were considered unreliable and were not allowed to give testimony in the law courts.” (Morris) They had to sleep out in the fields to guard dumb sheep from predators – and they were usually somebody else’s dumb sheep. They were like cowboys for sheep, but without the horses – now there’s an image! Interesting that “Bethlehem’s shepherds were known to care for the temple flock. These men may have also protected and cared for the lambs used in temple sacrifice.” What a poetic twist. The Lord is so brilliant at that!  They are the first to worship the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, although they were never considered clean enough to worship in the temple. Metaphor becomes reality. Isolated and shunned by society, deemed unworthy for church participation, probably unschooled in the Scriptures – these ‘insignificant’ humans were targeted for the announcement of history’s most cataclysmic cosmic event. We have probably all heard a Christmas message of the hope that brings to the rest of us losers. We don’t have to be ‘somebody’ to be included in God’s plan. Of course, we need to respond like they did. But I was stuck by something else.

Like ants, we are frantically immersed in the duties and pleasures and distractions of living, forgetting that we are headed for a world where it will be the norm to interact with beings that now strike terror into the hearts of most people who have seen them. If we could see these creatures now would it impact our urgency for eternity?  Maybe. God’s story invites us to join Him and them in the redemption of the kingdom we forfeited by our willful pride. The guy we profess as Lord and Savior came from their heavenly realm and is constantly adored by their kind. We take comfort (hopefully) in the thought of that eventuality for ourselves. His sacrifice compels us to make a decision to get out of the boat of the familiar and natural and to walk on the water of the unfamiliar and spiritual. That can only happen if we trust the One who is calling us out. Perhaps you have responded already.

What is curious is that so many of us who supposedly are living out of another reality are so willing to tribe up, to narrow our world to like minded or like-living people. Why do we diminish and even dismiss the sheep cowboys of our day? The ones who don’t fit in to society because they are different, or uneducated, or uncool, or embarrassing, or unlearned – these are the ones we romanticize at the recounting of the Christmas story. I was certainly convicted as I thought about people that don’t get the respect from me that the angels and the King would give them – even though it is often an internal and unstated slight. Repentance anyone?

How amazing it will be to live where my spirit has been retooled to take my body places it cannot access right now, places where the angels play (wait – do angels play?). I realize that I need to get to the gym and work those spiritual muscles while I still have time to prepare for life in the place that these beings populate. It starts by concerted effort to look at things they way they really are. I am convinced,  “as an act of intelligent worship, to give him my body as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable to by him. Not to let the world squeeze me into its own mould, but to let God remould my mind from within…” (Ro 12:1-2 jbp) Think different to be different. I invite my companions on this heavenly journey to speak into my blind spots, to pray for my weak spots. May the Lord enable us to make the church of God (that’s us) a redemptive message to one another, the angels and the lost.