Angels Among Us


 

Daniel 10:10-14; 12:1-3   Revelation 12:7-12   Luke 10:17-20

St. Michael and All Angels

 

Are angels real?  A Google search for “angels” turns up pages of entries for the Los Angeles baseball team Angels.  (They have a zero percent chance to win the World Series this year.)  Are angels real? Amazon Alexa won’t commit.  My seminary professor for theology did not believe in angels.  When class got a bit too intense, asking him a question about angels provided a distraction, and often some comic relief.

We talk about angels frequently. This is especially true when we speak of children.  “Oh, she is a little angel!”  We have theorized about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  When someone bakes us cookies, especially with chocolate and nuts in them, we call them an angel. There are numerous movies and television shows about angels.  It’s a Wonderful Life features a angel named Clarence. My favorite angel movie is Michael.  John Travolta plays the title character, an angel who has the best dance moves.  There are various kinds or functions of angels.  We have guardian angels, cherubim and seraphim, archangels, and Hell’s Angels, just to name a few.  Jesus refers to angels as watching over children (Matt 18:10), and rejoicing over penitent sinners (Luke 15:10).

While our scientific advances have benefitted many aspects of our living and our world, have they also conditioned us to believe only that which is verifiable? How do we conceptualize the things beyond what God has chosen to reveal to us? Few could argue that here are forces of good and evil among us, and within us. How do we speak about that which we cannot see, but know is present? What language do we have for realities that lie beyond what we can explain?    What expresses adequately that which gives life, and that which takes it away?

Today is the Feast Day of St. Michael and All Angels.[1]  This year it falls on a Sunday. Our second lesson is from the Book of Revelation.  There is no “s” on the end because it is the revelation of Jesus Christ. (“Revelations” is a pet peeve of mine.) We hear in our reading from the book of Revelation of the war that broke out in heaven, a war of angels versus demons, and evil against good.

Michael is the leader of the forces of good.  The name Michael means one who is with God, and as an archangel, he is chief of the angels. The Greek word for “angel” means “messenger.”  He was the angel who told Moses he was about to die.  The prophet Daniel asserts that Michael stands guard over Israel.  Michael is a protector.  He had aided those who struggle against the spiritual forces of evil.  I don’t know if St. Michael can dance as well as John Travolta.

Today is a celebration of God’s creation, that which is seen, and that which is unseen, that which we can define and that which we cannot.  This day brings awareness that there are heavenly messengers, empowered with God’s love, who bring with them goodness and truth.

Evil and lies are part of our everyday experience, on a personal level and a global one. There are powers and people who try to subvert God’s desire for humankind, who trample down the poor and the weak. There are those who inflict unspeakable horrors on children and on those who are different than they are.  Today is a reminder that with the power of God’s truth we can boldly face these evils.  God’s truth is love, a gift revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Messiah.  The power of these forces of evil and destruction, of hatred and death, have been broken. God has assured the victory through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

In the blessing of the body and blood of Christ, we proclaim the holiness of God’s presence. Using the call of the seraphs in the book of Isaiah, we sing, With the church on earth and the hosts of heaven, we praise God’s name and join the hosts of heaven, singing Holy, holy, holy Lord, Lord God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory.[2]    In this sacrament, we who are imperfect, take in Jesus’ holy body and blood.  As strange as it sounds, we swallow God’s love.  With it, we are given power to be Christ’s presence in this world.  We are formed to live as God’s holy people. Our forgiveness, love, compassion and healing join us with the powers of good in the world.

Here is our challenge—pay attention in these days to where you find the spirit of God’s love. Give thanks daily.[3]  Be God’s light in this world. This is the light overcomes darkness.

~Pastor Cheryl Ann Griffin

[1] References to the angel Michael can be found in Daniel, 10:13 ff. and 12:1, Jude 9, and Revelation 12:7-9.

[2] Isaiah 6:3.

[3] I strongly encourage you to engage in spiritual discipline of gratitude!  Keep a gratitude journal; write down 3 things daily for which you give thanks.  Some days, it might simply be that you are breathing.  Some days you will see God everywhere you look!


About Pastor Cheryl Griffin

Pastor Cheryl Ann Griffin thinks God has a sense of humor for leading her into ministry, but can’t imagine doing anything else! Pastor Griffin received her BA degree from the College of William and Mary. She worked as an accountant before God led her to the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, where she received her Master of Divinity degree. In the Virginia Synod, Pastor Griffin is a member of the Ministerium Team and frequently leads small groups at synod youth events. She is also a representative to the VA Synod Council.