The remarkably polished Minnesota Orchestra was performing “Evening Prayer” from Hansel and Gretel when some questionable subjects slowly crept into sight. The first one appeared on stage and then two more, and then another two began slinking mysteriously down each aisle of Orchestra Hall.
Only a moment earlier the conductor had cheerfully announced that we were in for a fantastic treat: puppets from In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in Minneapolis.
These larger-than-life puppets – some towering near 12-feet tall – masqueraded as angels. However, two of these so-called angels had deer heads, and two had squirrel heads. In their dream pantomime, they quietly kept watch over Hansel and Gretel as the children peacefully slept all alone, deep in the dangerous forest.
For our very sensitive 5-year-old Laurel, seeing these enormous puppet angels dwelling among us was certainly no fantastic treat. Rather than peace, they brought trouble. At first sight of them, Laurel shrieked in utter terror, hid under her coat, and then sobbed uncontrollably for the rest of the performance. Her daddy sat beside her, attempting to quiet and comfort her, but feeling trapped and helpless.
The puppet angels truly terrified Laurel. And they did look exceptionally sinister. They not only broke the rules by having animal heads and sneaking in unexpectedly from the back of the hall, but also they failed to announce what all Biblical angels know is the first order of business when appearing to humans. You already know the line: “Do not be afraid!” or “Fear not!”
Real-live angels must be quite terrifying, too. Remember the shepherds – those burly tough guys who weren’t afraid to take on any lions or bears that threatened their sheep? Even they were terrified by the angel that appeared to them and by the glory of the Lord shining around them that night when our Savior arrived.
The first angel the shepherds saw had a mission of utmost significance: to proclaim good news of great joy. Peace on earth! The Savior of the world had just been born!
One must be calm to be able to listen to such a meaningful message. That’s why the angel had to calm the shepherds with his words, “Do not be afraid.”
The spoken word is such a powerful thing – and even more so when it’s the Word of God. Clearly these words calmed the shepherds, as they soon heard the angel’s message of peace and then found the baby Jesus.
Imagine the rush of wings as a whole crowd of angels then came into sight, all praising God together and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
That said, Christmastime should be peaceful, right? Yet isn’t it hard to find peace when so many distractions masquerade as necessary to our Christmas celebration? Like giant puppets, distractions can trouble us and sometimes even make us want to hide under our coats.
But we have an ever-present heavenly Father – One who is always able to quiet us and comfort us in times of trouble. He is mighty to save!
We genuinely find peace when we, like the shepherds, fix our eyes on Jesus, gaze upon His divine excellence, and behold the glory of the Lord. His glory is shining all around us, too, when we look for it and let it transform us.
In the song “Everything Glorious,” David Crowder sings, “My eyes are small but they have seen the beauty of enormous things… From glory to glory, You [Jesus] are glorious. You make everything glorious, and I am Yours. What does that make me?”
We pray you embrace true peace this Christmas and throughout the new year, and we pray you join us in fixing our eyes upon Jesus and allowing Him to transform us. May our small eyes see the beauty of enormous things in 2011!
From glory to glory, He is glorious!