Advent, Day 14: A Host of Angels and the Shepherds

On this 14th day of Advent, we share a devotion from Norman Vincent Peale that states that just hearing of Jesus' birth is not enough; we must seek the Christ child out for ourselves.

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26 Days of Advent with Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host...—Luke 2:13

Surely one of the most vivid and beloved passages in the Bible is the one where the heavens themselves seemed to explode with joy on the night when Christ was born. Mary and Joseph had come from Galilee to Bethlehem to be taxed. “And there were in the same country,” St. Luke says, “shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8).

If we had been with those simple folk, sitting around their campfire, staring into the blue-black vault of midnight, what would we have seen and heard? We were indeed there in those same fields one Christmas Eve. We asked that He be reborn in us.

First, there must have been a radiant burst of light as “the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them” (Luke 2:9). Understandably, they were terror-stricken, but once again the angel spoke his reassuring words: “Fear not.” Then he gave them the “good tidings of great joy” that have been at the heart of Christmas ever since. And suddenly, St. Luke tells us, “There was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God” (Luke 2:13).

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What a stupendous and spectacular sight that must have been! According to tradition and studies based on Scripture, there is a whole hierarchy of angels, their rank determined by their closeness to God’s throne. The nine orders are seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominions, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels and angels. If all these shining creatures were in the heavenly host that the shepherds saw, no wonder they were spellbound.

But the shepherds weren’t content merely to be told about the Savior’s birth. They wanted to experience Him for themselves, and that is what they did, coming “with haste” to the manger where the baby lay (Luke 2:16).

Is there a message for all of us here? I think there is, and it is this: Don’t be satisfied merely to hear about Jesus. Arise and seek Him yourself. Go in search of Him “with haste” until you stand in His Presence, and then when you have found Him, tell others about your discovery, just as the shepherds did.

Heavenly Father, at this holy time, we thank You for the gift of Your Son, and the message of love that He brought to the world.

This story first appeared in the December 1992 edition of Guideposts

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