This time of year in churches all over, little children dress up in white robes, put on wings and halos, and in general, look cute! Children dressed as angels are a staple of Christmas plays everywhere. Congregations voice their â€œAhhhhsâ€ and parents and family members hope that their â€œangelsâ€ behave themselves.
This is as it should be â€“ angels do play a part in the Christmas story. Christmas pageants are stylized portrayals of the story of Jesusâ€™ birth, and children dressed as angels fit right in. But we should, from time to time, stop and consider: what are angels?
Maybe you donâ€™t believe in angels. Some modern scholars claim that the Jews picked up the idea of angels from the Persians. Certainly some modern portraits add to our incredulity. Clarence, the would-be angel in Capraâ€™s Itâ€™s A Wonderful Life, is a very likable character, but not so good for getting at what angels are (and the movie reinforces the notion that angels are just humans who have been promoted, so to speak). We get more of our ideas about angels (and demons) from the not so modern picture in Miltonâ€™s writing than from the Bible.
And we are embarrassed by the kitschy angels sold in gift shops. Nothing this silly could possibly exist. [Read more…] about Supporting Cast to the Christmas Story: Angels