Humpty Dumpty, sporting a cravat he received from the King and Queen for his unbirthday, has little Alice calculate the number of unbirthdays in a year (Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass). This is a far better deal---by 364 to 1---than merely celebrating on one's birthday.
Heretofore, most of us have celebrated angels only once a year, at Christmas, which makes me suspicious. Talk of angels comes to a screeching halt on December 26 along with a breathtakingly rude cessation of Perry Como and Andy Williams and Alvin and the Chipmunks. My hunch is that the frequency of mention of a particular Bible doctrine is an indicator of the credulity with which it is held. That is, we believe enough in angels for the holidays but not enough to make them a practical part of our lives.
The author of Hebrews says angels are a practical part of our lives: They are "ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation" (1:14). How do they serve us? I suppose, in the usual ways---they put a hedge of protection around us (2 Kings 6:16); they block our paths (Numbers 22:23); they are dispatched with messages in answer to prayer (Daniel 10:12) when they are not occupied fighting unclean spirits, principalities, and powers elsewhere (Daniel 10:13).
We are given a heads-up that not all the strangers we meet throughout the day are actual people (Hebrews 13:2). Some may be angels placed in your way to see if you will treat them well or if you will be mean. Since, presumably, they will look like real hobos or cab drivers or waitresses, we will not know if we are having an angel visitation. This puts us in the awkward position of having to be nice to everyone all the time, just in case.
For the last few years during Christmas season I have found in my mailbox a check for $500 in an envelope with no return address, and a card signed simply "a Korean young adult group." Not only am I unable to send a thank you note. I will, for the rest of my life, have to be especially polite to every Korean I meet on the street, because I don't know it I'm meeting one of them.
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