Angel Choirs, Shepherds & Belinda Carlisle!
The extraordinary angel choir ambushed the Shepherds, singing of a new kind of peace on earth. It was quite possibly the first choir those Shepherds had ever heard, and maybe even a premiere performance of angel singing anywhere on planet earth!
A description of the first century Palestine of these Shepherds sounds depressingly familiar to those of us who have seen the 21st century version on the news broadcasts - Split into deep historic rivalries, vying for power and favour with the Romans (or present day America). Even on a good day, tension never far from the surface, always ready to boil over into violence, which in turn can quickly escalate from a minor incident to sweep up the whole region in blood and revolution.
Not exactly 'peace on earth' now or then,unless you are prepared to fundamentally water down the definition of the word peace. From whichever century you look at it we seem as far away as ever from the tantalising hope of real peace.
Maybe the Angel choir just sings stuff they don't mean, more sentiment, myth and hope, than words fuelled with true substance? After all, Belinda Carlisle also sang about heaven on earth in 1987 and nobody took her too seriously and wrote all the words down as though they might have meaning....actually I did write them out on the back of a bedroom poster.....Either way, 2000 years later, we seem to be as far away as a Belinda Carlisle comeback tour from the authentic kind of heaven on earth proclaimed by the Angels!
As I read the Angel story again this morning,the same story we tell in the nativity year after year, this new peace still hasn’t appeared. We continue to live in the tension of the unfulfilled promise, choosing to believe in spite of harsh realities, of a greater promise for the planet.
The Angel choir reminds us that something so significant for the human race really was opened up that winter night. We find the end of the story in Revelation, where more magnificent Angel choirs sing, and a loud voice declares that God himself has finally come to live amongst his people, removing for ever their pain, sorrow, death and crying! Finally the kind of peace that was promised, finally a new heaven on earth!
That cold night with the Shepherds on a hillside in a divided Palestine, God’s promise of hope was born in the person of Jesus. True peace is personified in him, he is the Prince of peace, the completion of every prophetic longing for a better world. The rest of the world may have missed the announcement, but there will be no missing the unveiling of the promise in Jesus when the Revelation choir clear their throats and start to sing!
This promise to bring in a kingdom where wars, injustice, and even death
will be a thing of the past began with an Angel choir to a select few that had ears to hear, perhaps giving us all a glimpse of something we can live for even though we don't yet fully see it. Maybe Belinda Carlisle was right after all?