By Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, December 7, 2018
If we can supposedly find ourselves in all the figures of the Nativity, how can we possibly be angels? The answer is simple. What is the role of an angel? Well, there are two roles actually—Angels praise God, and angels are God’s messengers, and we are capable of doing both.
How do we praise God? Well, the same way the angels did. With our voices. We praise God with our voices in three ways. We praise Him privately with a voice of prayer. This is something that every Christian should do every day or his or her life. There should be quiet moments carved out in each day for prayer.
The second way we praise God is the voice we use out in the world. When we are praying to God, we are not angry, or cursing or lying, or gossiping. The best way to praise God out in the world is to use the same “voice” we use when we are praying when speaking with others. When praying we use a respectful, reverent tone. There is nothing that stops us from taking the same tone and using it with people we meet throughout the day. If we treat every person as if we are talking to God, imagine what we would or would not say to them. If we are all made in the image and likeness of God, we should address each person as if we are addressing God.
The third way we praise God is the voice we use when we combine with others to sing in a choir. No, we are not all going to belong to the church choir. But we belong to “choirs”, to various groups that “sing” with various voices. What kind of voice do these groups “sing” with? Voices that praise God? What voice does the high school basketball team sing with? The college fraternity? The professional sports team? The law office? The hospital staff? The school faculty? The police department? The clergy? We all belong to some group. We all have influence in the kind of “voice” that the group projects. We can all influence a group toward or away from Christian values like integrity, dignity, and honesty.
Jesus told His disciples (and by extension all of us) to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19) This is done both by talking directly about God to others as well as witnessing for God by using a God-like voice when we are speaking. The angels didn’t tell the shepherds, “Hey go believe in God.” They praised God and the shepherds decided based on what they had heard to go and see for themselves. It is incumbent on us to have invite others to “come and see”, (John 1:39) to come and know Christ. However, we cannot invite others to Christ if we don’t first know Him ourselves. In order to be an “angel” one has to first be a student, to know Christ and then to share Him.
The message of the angels is often mistranslated. Most often we hear their song translated as “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace good will towards men.” This message can be taken to mean that peace is a gift given to all people. The message of the angels actually says “and on earth, peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Peace is a gift from God to people of good will, to people who live lives and have hearts that are pleasing to God.
Today the Virgin gives birth to the Maker of the universe. Eden offers a cave, and a star announces Christ, the Sun to those in darkness. Magi were illumined by faith and came and worshiped Him with gifts. Shepherds saw the wonder, as Angels were singing, “Glory in the highest to God!” (Aposticha, Vespers of the Nativity, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
The lesson of the angels: We are all supposed to act as God’s messengers. This starts when we have learned the message. We are supposed to sing with a voice of praise to God—in our private prayers, in our individual lives, and in the groups to which we belong. We are supposed to share the good news with others. And God’s peace does not come to us merely because we have hearts that beat, but comes into hearts that beat for Him.
~Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, Tampa, FL, http://greekorthodoxchurchtampa.com/.