A View from the Choir
What was Christmas like from the angels' point of view?
The story behind the sermon (Bryan Wilkerson)
After doing first person narratives at Christmastime for many years, I was running out of characters—the human variety, anyway. I wasn't about to portray a talking sheep, but what about an angel?
I drew my inspiration from 1 Peter 1:12, "Even angels long to look into these things." I was intrigued by the notion that the heavenly beings are in awe of God's redemptive love and plan for the human race. Telling the story from a heavenly perspective enabled me to explore the cosmic backstory of the incarnation that none of the historical characters could possibly have understood or articulated.
I have often found that first-person narratives are a painless way to cover the historical and cultural background that can sometimes get tedious or esoteric in a typical message. But with this character I found I could cover a lot of theology—the doctrines of angels and demons, the nature of humankind, the sovereignty of God, and, of course, the incarnation.
The challenge in any first-person narrative is staying in character and resisting the tendency to preach in a costume. Since most people have a limited theological understanding of angels, I wanted the congregation to understand that the content they were hearing was grounded in Scripture, so I opted to have the character read from a Bible that had been "left" on the pulpit.
The particular challenge of portraying an angel was to help the listeners identify with a fundamentally non-human character. I wanted to avoid putting human emotions on the character, but needed to have him articulate thoughts and responses that were both intriguing and authentic. It's always important to inject a bit of humor or light-hearted banter into these ...
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Bryan Wilkerson is pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts.