I believe in angels. They are real and kind and present and wise and gracious. I’ve known angels who come when I have been desperate for them. And I’ve known them to show up unannounced. Since my parents’ deaths, I have welcomed quite a few. And I believe that in those visitors, my parents have appeared in unexpected ways.
It’s not unusual to talk about angels during this Advent season. They played a big part in the story. First an angel appeared to Mary, “Be not afraid," as she first heard of the child who was to be born. Another visits on the night the weary travelers exhausted, found a stable in Bethlehem. We are told that an angel was there, laughing and crying and shouting the best-of-all news: “Be not afraid; for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.” Angels companion this season, sometimes quietly off in the background, sometimes center stage with the words of hope and healing on their lips. Be not afraid. Good news.
With the passing of years I’ve lost friends to HIV/AIDS, and I have been visited by an angel or two. Most of these buddy-angels still resembling their sweet, goofy, not-ever-dull-or-predictable selves. These old friends come to shake me up a little. They come to set me straight a little – in ways only they know. I treasure the visions and wisdom stories that come from these graceful spirits. I pay attention, I listen and often than not, I believe them.
Seminary Professor Bill Mallard is certainly one of my most treasured angels. The gift about Dr. Mallard is that he was an angel for me, even when we were both on this earth. Bill used humor to coax, stories to comfort, timeless wisdom to inspire and love to hold so many of us. One of Bill’s phrases that still helps me through the not-so-easy days is: "You’re comin’ on.” When he spoke these three, life-giving words to his students at Candler, many of us knew we had been just been messaged. Even though few of us ever really knew exactly what he meant, we believed him. To be “comin’ on,” was the Mallard version of this too shall pass. Even though he’s been gone now for a few Christmases, I can still hear his voice and see that twinkle in his eye, “Lesley, you’re comin’ on.”
Tonight, is the coming-on moon. Tonight, if the clouds help us out, we will see this month’s first quarter. It’s been a week now since the new moon, and gradually each night there has been a shift. Shifts, like angels can come in unexpected ways. And like angels, shifts can bring us a new direction, if just a little. Tonight, reminds us that we can do two seemingly opposite things at the same time – tonight marks the time that more light is coming with the moon’s glow, while our days are growing darker. Both / and. We're comin' on.