Message of Angels - Christmas Reflection
- By Dr. J.N. Manokaran
- Published 12/25/2009
Dr. J.N. Manokaran
Rev. Dr. J.N. Manokaran is a civil engineer by profession. God has called Rev. Dr. J.N. Manokaran to be a missional leader serving with his family in Haryana as cross cultural missionaries for eleven years. Since 1997 they have returned to Tamil Nadu to help missionaries and pastors to build their capacities by teaching, training and writing. He has authored these books: “Christ and Cities” and “Christ and Missional Leaders”. He has completed his B.D. from Immanuel Theological Seminary, Georgia as an external student, did his M.Th. at Hindustan Bible Institute, Chennai and earned his Ph.D. from International Institute of Church Management. Rev. Dr. J.N. Manokaran's wife Rosy is a constant encourager in the ministry and counsels many people. His daughter Hosanna is a student missionary in Belarus pursuing her Medical studies to become a missionary doctor and son Thambos is in high school. Presently, Rev. Dr. J.N. Manokaran serves as the Managing Director of Trainers of Pastors International Coalition (TOPIC) – India and provides consultancy services to several organizations, mentor several leaders and contributes to several magazines and journals.
First one was a private appearance that became public immediately (Zachariah), the second was also private (Mary) and it was not disclosed immediately, the third was public and it was acted upon immediately (shepherds).
Message for all generations
The appearance to the father of John the Baptist, while he was officiating in the temple is the first appearance. He was old and did not aspire for a child as Elizabeth was past that stage of child bearing. They were righteous and blameless. As all Israelites, they also aspired to have children, but their prayers were not; perhaps they lost all hope. And God sent his angel with the message of hope – birth of a son who would become a prophet preparing the way for the incarnation of Son of God, Lord Jesus Christ. God can commission even retired people to start a new project for his kingdom. Were not Moses and Noah commissioned in their retirement age?
A Virgin from a rural country, probably a teenager was puzzled to see an angel appearing to her. The message was that God has chosen among all women to bring forth to the world – Christ the Saviour. Amazing! Only a young girl can do this. God commissions young people to accomplish great things for His Kingdom. But, there is a tendency to despise young people who aspire for ministerial and missional roles. Mary was obedient to God’s call, even though she did not understand the whole process of redemption.
A group of marginalized shepherds – able bodied, hard working, dynamic adults out in the field, saw angel appearing to them, giving them the first information about the birth of Lord Jesus Christ. The Priests, Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees – religious elite could pinpoint the place of birth of Lord Jesus to the Magi from the East but never bothered to visit Him to worship. They had their Scripture, but did not believe it. These illiterate needed the Word or Information; God was gracious to send his angel. Their response was wonderful; they rushed immediately, worshipped and spread the word to others. They were worshipers and witnesses.
Modern world believes that Christmas is just a cultural festival for children. But, it is for all generations, all ages, men and women, transcending all human segregations, separations and divisions.
Messages received in different contexts
The angels appeared in different places. God’s message of love could reach us in any context. Zachariah received in the temple, as he was involved in worship of Jehovah. The same temple needed cleansing as it became ‘den of thieves’ instead of place of worship. But, message was received in that Holy place. God is involved in the lives of people who are willing to listen, even if they live among unrighteous people. He will intervene in our lives when we wait and worship in the presence of the Lord. Worship and prayer has become a ritual rather than reception of message from the Lord.
Angel visited the home of Virgin Mary. May be she was alone, after completing her household chores. God speaks even when we are doing our routine mundane work. But our mind and spirit could be attuned to God’s Spirit. Not the context, but our attitude and attunement help us to be receptive to God’s message.
Shepherds were in their work environment, performing their duty keeping vigil to protect their flock. May be they were keepers of the sheep used as sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem. The angel appeared to them with the precious message. They seemed busy with their work, but their response to go to Bethlehem tells us that they had their priorities right. Neither workaholic, nor they believed work as worship, but could balance their work and worship priorities.
Prepare, Partner and Partake
The message for Zachariah was that John the Baptist would prepare the way for the Lord. Zachariah was a Priest, but his son would be a Prophet. Many parents like their children to be chip of the old block. Pastors want their children as pastors; missionaries as missionaries; doctors as doctors; politicians as politicians… etc. The ministry of John the Baptist would be in contrast to his father. One was Formal, while another was Informal; in temple, while another was in wilderness; ritualistic, ceremonial and systematic but John’s was spontaneous, non-traditional and non-conservative.
For Mary, the message was a call to be partner in the Great Plan of Redemption of humanity. There was a need for human instrument to fulfill, God’s dramatic plan. It could be only woman, that to young Virgin. She was humble, submissive and available vessel for God. The Word has to become flesh; Mary was available to execute God’s Global agenda of sending His Son to die for human beings.
Shepherds, a marginalized group of people were called to partake – by worship and witness. God prepared the way for His Son to come, called Mary to be a partner and invited shepherds, representative of humanity to partake in the New Creation. Shepherds responded well by worshiping and witnessing.
Today We Are Called to Prepare, Partner and Partake
This Christmas season once again the basic call for all Christians. We are called to prepare the way for our Lord’s Second coming. Our role is to reveal Lord Jesus Christ to the world that indwells in us. His love, grace, and power has to be demonstrated in this world through us. As members of the Body of Christ, we are worshiper and witnesses 24/7 for His Glory. Worshippers from all people irrespective of their caste, language, culture, nationality, economic status, social status…etc.