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And, Lo, an Angel of the Lord Came Upon Them

No. 14 Recitative

Music courtesy of The Falls Church Anglican Choir, Falls Church, Virginia, under the musical direction of Simon Dixon. Audio mastering by Andrew Schooley. From Messiah by George Frideric Handel (1742)

Listen to the full playlist for Handel’s Messiah.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.”

– Luke 2:9

Angels play an important role in the Christmas story. But most of us don’t know what to do about that. Other than showing up in some television dramas or as Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life, angels don’t figure prominently in our daily dramas or earthly lives. But the Bible has a good amount to say about angels. They are spiritual beings that serve God in a myriad of ways. At the birth of Jesus, they made key announcements and provided doxological splendor.

Shepherds also play their part. And what a contrast these earthly beings provide to the angelic hosts. Thus, God sets the stage with actors of the most lofty (the angels) to the most lowly (the shepherds). Together they frame the most staggering scene imaginable.

We shouldn’t be surprised that the shepherds were “sore afraid.” Wouldn’t you be? Part of our Advent devotion can take shape by our imagining ourselves in the place of those who were there long ago—the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, Joseph, and Mary.

But at some point, we should step back and marvel at the wonder of it all. God has come to earth. The eternal One has chosen to arrive as a newborn baby. The One who crafted the stars with His fingers (see Ps. 8:3) now has a tiny hand grasping His mother’s finger. The almighty has taken the form of the most helpless. The One who merely uttered words to form the heavens and the earth has taken the form of One who cries and coos. No wonder we read, much later in God’s revealed word, “Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Pet. 1:12).

May it be that our celebration of Advent is filled with wonder and praise as we ponder the wonder of the incarnation.


Father, You are the One who crafted the earth and the stars. You give life
and breath to all of creation. Open my eyes to see Your glory shining
round about me. Help me to ponder the wonder of Your incarnation
and that You should choose to reveal Yourself through Jesus, the Messiah.


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Randy Newman

Randy Newman (1956-2024) was the Senior Fellow for Apologetics and Evangelism at the C.S. Lewis Institute. He taught at several evangelical seminaries. After serving for over 30 years with Campus Crusade for Christ, he established Connection Points, a ministry to help Christians engage people’s hearts the way Jesus did. He has written seven books, Questioning EvangelismCorner ConversationsBringing the Gospel HomeEngaging with Jewish People, Unlikely Converts: Improbable Stories of Faith and What They Teach Us About Evangelism, Mere Evangelism. and his most recent, Questioning Faith: Indirect Journeys of Belief through Terrains of Doubt. Randy has also written numerous articles about evangelism and other ways our lives intertwine with God’s creation. He earned his MDiv and PhD in Intercultural Studies from Trinity International University. Randy went home to be with the Lord in May 2024.  

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