My grandma Novotny used to love wearing angel sweatshirts. Standard-issue gray with long sleeves and an angel stitched onto the chest. I can still remember the details of those angels—winged, diapered, and chunky enough to be a future diabetic risk.
But I have a hunch the Christmas angels didn’t look like that. “An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds], and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified” (Luke 2:9). Those grown men were “terrified” by a single angel. I have a hunch he wasn’t wearing a diaper . . .
That detail reminds me of what happens when God’s glory and human sinfulness meet. When God pulls back the curtain and we humans experience holiness, it is terrifying. We fall on our faces. We hide our eyes in the dirt. Somehow, instinctively, we know we are not worthy to stand, to look, to laugh.
But listen to the angel’s message: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you” (Luke 2:10,11). Because of the Savior born to us, we do not have to be afraid. Despite our sins, we do not have to fear that God will punish us, exclude us, or condemn us. Instead, we can stand up and see his glorious face. And we can worship with the angels.