Featured this morning in our church bulletin, a recent Advent poem of mine. Though the version for the service had one line adjustment for the sake of its context; this is the original.
More often than not they arrived on foot,
like travelers come a long distance.
Think of the three at which Sarah laughed.
Think of the one standing in Balaam’s path.
The shepherds, aghast at the one,
then suddenly surrounded face to face with a host,
looked angels in the eyes. Scattered among the sheep—
not suspended—stalking toward them purposefully
with peace to those on whom.
The shepherds were not the first.
All of Israel followed the angel to Canaan,
and it was the angels who brought fire to Sodom.
An angel alone led the ram to Abraham.
And we haven’t yet mentioned the cherubim,
divine dragons, guardians of the throne, strange beasts.
This is the company the angels keep.
The messengers say do not be afraid,
and often lift men from prostrate praise.
More often than harps they hold swords in hand,
and sometimes the Lord of all looks the part.
Jacob wrestled the angel, but he wrestled his God.
And the rod of justice, and the feet of bronze,
sometimes the angel is the Son of God.
Where the image of infants with tiny wings?
What the prayers for guardians of easy things?
If an angel appears, something’s worthy of fear.
You’re called to change, to move. Your heart is laid bare.
Zechariah in the temple faced the angel and said,
“I am old; I need proof.” And he was struck mute.
When Mary faced the angel with his promise of favor,
she said, “I am young; how can this be done?”
So the angel, regardless of wings, robe, harp strings, halo,
heard much the same from each, but knew the hearts.
In her was born the King of all kings.