If God had time to watch the evening news, or rather, the inclination (figuring that “time” isn’t even in the equation for the Almighty), I would think that at the end of every single newscast an angel would appear, saying: Do not be afraid!

That might help counter the constant assault of scary news that viewers endure night after night, or whenever they watch the news. Today’s news carries threats of a nuclear attack from North Korea as well as a warning from Great Britain that a massive terrorist assault could happen there soon.

The news itself is scary, yes; but so are the commercials to which viewers are delivered. Most of the drug sponsors have to list all the frightening things that can happen if you actually use the medicine.

So we come away scared. Well, except for the heartwarming story at the end, usually something about kids, pets, or veterans.

Anyway, for most of it, we need an angel-announcer from God to repeat the message angels sing/say/exhort almost every time they show up in the Biblical story: Don’t be afraid!

What got me thinking about angelic messengers? This photo. When I took this picture of frost on the bathroom window of the house where we lived in Ithaca, I saw those neat icy patterns of course. But when I looked more closely at the print and used some imagination, I saw angels!IMG

Now granted, they are the wispy, fragile-looking white-winged angels you might see in “Angel’s Magazine” (there must be one) or someplace else that features pictures of clouds or sun rays that cast an angelic host over pious believers. (Funny. If I’m not one of those looking for such seraphic visions, why did this bit of frost suggest “angels?”)

We once-in-the-mainline church folk don’t think about angels very often. It’s mostly around the Christmas story that those heavenly messengers show up in our preaching. Mary gets the “Don’t be afraid” greeting, as does Joseph. Jesus is born and angels bring the news to shepherds, beginning with “Don’t be afraid…” and ending with the hovering (I assume) host singing “Glory…and peace…”

There are many other Biblical references to angels and very often their introductory words are to dispel fear. I would imagine that the sudden appearance of an uninvited, unexpected intruder might strike fear in anyone, no matter what the visitor looked like. Wispy? Winged? Or, ugly as sin (so to speak). Yes, what if angels were gruff-looking guys with about a six day growth of beard, fiery eyes, and a couple of front teeth only an orthodontist could love.  We really don’t have complete physical descriptions of these beings, not even clues to their gender…if angels even have such a thing. Maybe they are ugly. No wonder they’d have to tell their clientele to not be scared.

The gospels of Matthew and Mark have angels caring for Jesus at the end of his forty day desert retreat. No word on what they said or did, or what they looked like; just the mention that they showed up and “waited on him.” I’ll bet he was glad to see them.

Even if you don’t believe in angels, I’ll bet you’d be glad to see one, right? At just the right time? With just the right message.

I’ll close this reflection with one of my favorite takes on angels, from Frederick Buechner. He wrote, “Angels are powerful spirits whom God sends into the world to wish us well. Since we don’t expect to see them, we don’t. An angel spreads his glittering wings over us, and we say things like, ‘It was one of those days that made you feel good just to be alive’ or ‘I had a hunch everything was going to turn out all right’ or ‘I don’t know where I ever  found the courage.’

Wispy shapes or “glittering wings” … or just a friend who shows up at the right moment to say, “Hey, I’m here; don’t be afraid.” A God-sent spirit, to be sure.