The angelic herald in the children’s Christmas pageant during worship today was sidelined by one of those small childhood tragedies. She caught her finger in the stepladder she was unfolding to set the stage for her announcement from “on high.” Apparently the finger is not broken, but quite black and blue. We sang the opening song a second time to give her a chance to recover – but it was not enough. She needed the comfort of her parents. One of the Sunday School teachers took a tinsel halo and stepped in for her. It’s hard for an angel to deliver glad tidings of great joy through tears.
But I like the image of a wounded angel. It’s food for interesting thoughts about our wounded Messiah, our suffering God, the joy and grace of the incarnation – and its terrible price.
Mostly, though, I like the image of a wounded angel because we are all wounded messengers.
We bear into the world a message of grace knowing full well our own need for that grace. We speak of hope even when we struggle privately with despair. We speak of joy though we sorrow, of mercy though there are things in us and in others we cannot forgive. We are clay vessels. Imperfect witnesses of perfect love. Wounded messengers of perfect healing.
An angel with tears is an angel we can understand. One who has walked our path, shared our journey. One who knows life’s sorrows but nevertheless can point us to perfect joy.
Such is the miracle of the incarnation. God does not sit above the trials of life; he shares them with us. He knows the cold of a refugee camp. He knows the terror of violence. He knows the fear of enemies marching through the streets. He knows the ache of loneliness and loss, the tears and fears of the night. He knows the cross of love betrayed. He knows hunger and shame and the sting of cruelty. Yet he bears witness to a transformative grace. He bears witness to love of neighbor and love of enemies. He is a messenger of redeeming love.
He is redeeming love.
And he chooses to dwell within us. Making us his wounded angels, proclaiming glad tidings of great joy even through tears.