I wrote a post about the “Christmas Angel” a few years ago. It became topical again this week with the Come Follow Me focus on Matthew 1 and Luke 1. Here it is:
The happenings leading up to, and culminating with, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ represent some of the most joyful, hopeful events in the history of the earth. But to appreciate these events a little more, I would like to look back to when things were not so joyful.
Sometimes we tend to look at our church callings and grumble. Surely some are harder than others. We can look to the pioneers and see those who had a difficult task, but I would contend that nobody ever had a more difficult task than Noah. Yes, Noah – the one that built the ark. Imagine having that calling.
You would spend your entire life calling people to repentance, with very little success. The Lord would instruct you to build an ark to save your family – because He intends to destroy the earth. So you and your sons begin building, while you desperately try and convince people to change their ways and follow God – as they try and kill you.
There are no takers.
And then the day comes that you, your wife, your three sons and their wives seal yourselves up in the ark, and listen as the rain begins to fall. As the waters begin to rise, you know that every single person on the earth will be killed. Your neighbors, your friends, other relatives – all gone.
Eventually the rain stops, and the waters recede, and you begin again.
After living for 950 years on the earth, you finally die and find yourself in the Spirit World – in Paradise. But this joy must be dampened by the knowledge that those countless souls who perished in the flood are trapped in prison. And in spirit prison they must remain, until the promised time comes when Christ comes to the earth, where he atones for our sins, and dies.
As Jesus’ body lay in the tomb, his spirit will visit Paradise and establish a way for those souls to escape that prison. But until then, there they wait – for thousands of years.
And then the long-awaited day finally arrives. The time of the Savior’s birth draws near. Can you imagine how excited you would be?
But it gets better, because in the Spirit World, you are more than simply Noah. You are the archangel that stands next to Adam in holding the keys of salvation.
You are Gabriel.
You have the sacred privilege of visiting the young girl Mary, and delivering the joyful message:
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,To a virgin epoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David;
and the virgin’s name was Mary.And the angel came in unto her, and said,
Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women.And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. Luke 1: 26-31
Mary, in her humility, responds to the remarkable news just as you hoped – with faith. After, you get to visit Joseph and help him understand the importance of what is happening. He responds to the amazing explanation just as you hoped – with faith.
And so it begins. And you are right in the middle of it. How long have you waited for this to happen? The moment that had been thousands of years in the making is almost here: The Christ will be born.
I can’t think of anyone else who would find more joy in this simple announcement than the angel Gabriel.
He was a busy archangel to be sure. In ancient Grecian texts, Gabriel was the same angel that appeared to the shepherds on that sacred night, and warned Joseph in a dream to take the newborn Jesus and flee to Egypt. We don’t know for sure if it was Gabriel – but I hope it was.
Now, when I see a manger, or a Nativity play, or a movie representing the Savior’s birth, I take a look at the angel, smile and think, “Attaboy Noah!”
Gabriel/Noah is listed in the LDS bible dictionary under “Noah”.