I have a friend with whom I meet every other Tuesday morning at Cracker Barrel for breakfast. We have met for a number of years and I always enjoy the times I can glean some wisdom and fresh perspectives from him. Besides, he’s a therapist and I kind of see it as the counseling version of a second opinion.
While waiting for my friend one morning I found myself browsing through their country store that begins putting out its Christmas decorations the day after Easter these days, I’m pretty certain.
As I wandered the exhibits of square-dancing pig salt and pepper shakers and tractor caps that read, “I’m With Stupid” I happened upon an unexpected Christmas moment.
At the top of a pyramid of various angel figurines and boxes loomed a glowing glass figure. It stood three feet tall and had brass wings and a bronze head. The body was an inverted cone of glowing glass that lit up with a champagne glow. As I noticed the glass body of the figure I realized that it was a lava lamp angel. Not just a lava lamp, but one that created ethereal, golden bubbles as the morphing lava swirled and reshaped itself inside. It was mesmerizing.
Suddenly, the overhead music began to play, I Saw the Light! It was like a redneck epiphany! I tried desperately to make sense of the sign that this appointed moment in time must be but alas, nothing came to me. It was simply me, the three feet of lava lamp angel, and I Saw the Light blaring away on the intercom. It was the kind of moment that could have brought a Hee-Haw fan to Jesus! Instead, I merely exhaled the slightest sad sigh to myself before realizing that now when I hear people sharing their stories of angelic encounters in our midst I’ll finally have something personal to share!
Whether through visitations in dreams and visions, messengers in great numbers or as a single agent, angels have played a pivotal role in the story of the gospel. The coming of Jesus is heralded by these beings in praising multitudes from the heavens while others share the foreshadowing of events in dreams and private conversations of the most intimate nature.
It seems that when angels are on the scene there is confrontation, information, and consolation. From the beginning of each conversation the recipients of the news are told not to be afraid and to take heart.
I began thinking about these types of exchanges as they pertain to peace.
Confronting without information is just inviting contention. Merely informing someone with a “just the facts, Ma’am” approach doesn’t get to the heart of anything. Consoling alone can sometimes even be a form of enabling that doesn’t change anyone but instead leaves them feeling justified and entitled in their pain or predicament.
Confrontation with information and consolation is what left Mary speaking the words, “May your word be accomplished in me.” It left Elizabeth saying that the Lord removed her shame from her and it found Joseph taking back his fiancee when shortly before he was planning to call off their marriage and leave her quietly.
Peace was coming face to face with indisputable truth in a consolation that made it seem doable.
Author, monk, and mystic, Richard Rohr says, “The Word of God confronts, converts, and consoles us—in that order.”
As bearers of good news ourselves, can we bring an encounter that is balanced in confrontation, information, and consolation? Can we not fall prey to the emotionally charged temptation with confrontation at the expense of informing and consoling? Can we inform without becoming cold and indifferent to the emotions in the story we are telling? Can we console in love without minimizing the facts as we help our friends own what is theirs in a situation?
I don’t have any personal connections with angels that I know of but I will say that the next time I’m confronted, informed, and consoled I will see that person challenging me as more of a messenger from God instead of writing them off as the cheap lava lamp angel version of a meddling friend.