The Ministry of Angels and Mortals

October 1, 2013

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Michael and All Angels, and I really love this feast.  And not only because I get to say my own name a lot. I’m not alone in thinking angels are pretty cool. Pretty much everyone in American society likes angels. A few years ago, there was a study that showed that 77% of all Americans believe in angels. For the most part, those folks are people who are already pretty religious. But over 40% of people who do not attend a religious service regularly still believe in angels. Unfortunately, the studies do not tell us what people think about angels or why they believe in them.

But luckily for us, the Christian tradition has thought a great deal about angels, and I want to share a little bit of that teaching with you all this morning. First of all, the word angel comes from a Greek word that means messenger. So back in those days, any sort of messenger was an angelos, an angel. The emperor had angels. Anyone could have a messenger. But we’re talking about the messengers of God, messengers who can deliver God’s word to us, and that changes things a little.

The bible talks about angels in several places: the story of Michael in Revelation, the story of Gabriel brings the news of Christ to Mary, and the angels at the tomb teaching the disciples. In each of these stories, the angels appear when the people in the stories really need to hear God’s word directly. But over time, people in the Church began to see that God sends the angels to all parts of creation. They began to understand that angels are the servants of God who do the work of sustaining creation. They saw beings sustaining the sun and the stars, they saw angels caring for nations and people, and they saw God’s hand at work in all aspects of their lives and in all aspects of the created order itself. Today, we can take this one step farther, and we can reflect on the angels that God sends to hold each particle in our bodies. Each of them is loved by God, and sustained by God. The upshot of all these angels is this: we are not alone in our journeys in Christ even when we think we are alone.

The despair that comes from deep and true loneliness is one of the most dangerous and destructive feelings we can have because it can lead us to doubt God’s love for us. But when we are open to work and ministry of angels, we have another way of fighting the dangers of despair. We can see the care that God has for creation, and we can remember that we are cared for as well.

But if angels can help us resist despair, they can also help us resist pride as well. When we consider all of God’s work, we are left with the realization that we are really only a very small part of everything that God does. We are a small part of the earth, which is a small part of the universe, which is small part of the fullness of God’s creation. That realization should be more than a little bit humbling for us. But God still cares for and sustains us, even though we are this tiny piece of his work. We are loved for who we are, not who we think we are, and most of the time, there’s a pretty big difference between the two.

Now there are a couple things that we’re going to do today in this service, and the angels of God will rejoice. First of all, in a few moments, we will be baptizing Jake Thomas, and, on God’s behalf, we will invite him into God’s family. But even though I don’t think he’s walking yet, he will take the first spiritual steps along the path of following Jesus Christ. And holding his hands today will be angels that God has sent for that purpose alone. And as he walks those steps his whole life, he will have his loving parents to care for him, and his Godparents to help him and to pray for him. And those angels will always be there sustaining him, even when his parents and Godparents can’t be there. He will never be alone, and he will never be outside of God’s presence.

Also, we will bless three of our parishioners who will be going the Dominican Republic to help provide medical aid for the people in several rural villages. They will also be going with God, and I have no doubt that angels will accompany them on their journey

And it’s that way will all of us. Angels are fellow servants of God whom God sends to us to deliver his word. They are with us when we have difficult decisions to make, and they are with us in our boring day to day lives. Angels are sent by God to deliver the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. This message shines out when they walk along with us in our journeys, and it shines out in the glories of creation. Angels remind us that we are not always as important as we think we are, and they are reminders that we can always hope because we are never alone. And their message is always the same: we are loved by God.

Michael Tuck+

St. Michael and All Angels

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