According to Luke’s Gospel, angels appeared in the sky near Bethlehem on the day of Jesus’ birth. With only shepherds and their sheep in attendance, the angels sang: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors” (Lk 2:14). The angels sang this song of praise to God, because this child would be the messenger of peace and divine favor to all of creation.
According to the church calendar, we must wait a little longer before we can hear the angelic chorus. Although we stand at the eve of Christmas, we gather this morning to celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent. This is one of those strange years, when we light the fourth candle of Advent and the Christ Candle on the same day. We have already lit the fourth candle, which symbolizes love, and soon we’ll light the last candle, which gives off the light of God’s glory revealed to us in Emmanuel, the one born in Bethlehem. The four Advent candles, which we have already lit, invite us to live as God’s people in hope, peace, joy, and love. These are the qualities that mark the Christian life at its best.