Monday, September 30, 2013
St. Michael and all Angels
St. Michael and all Angels Daniel 10:10-14, 12:1-3, Psalm 103, Revelation 12:7-12, Luke 10:17-20 In my life as a churchgoer and now an ordained pastor in Christ’s church I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have heard angels discussed in a sermon. If I were to discount the few times I was at General Retreat for a weekday service commemorating St. Michael on this date and the Christmas sermons where angels are given their usual place at Christ’s birth the number quite possibly reaches zero. Why do you think that is? Why have these messengers and warriors of God that get extensive airtime throughout both the Old and New Testaments become so silent if not downright non-existent in our proclamation and faith practice? Perhaps it is because the deeper the church sinks and modernity, or even post modernity the more hesitant it is to linger on those parts of its legacy which carry a sense of the supernatural; you know those things that might put us at odds with a world that likes only what it can see and measure empirically. As things like miracles and angels are discarded by the modern Christian church we have ended up forfeiting a lot of what we have to offer the world. For what sets us apart from social service agencies, community groups, and political action groups is our worship of the God who created the world and our claims that this God loves the world so much that he came to it in the incarnation of Jesus the Christ His Son, that in His, birth, life, death, and resurrection he has defeated death and earned for all who trust in Him eternal life, and that this same God continues to care an make his will and his presence known on earth in the lives of all who call on his name, even through supernatural means. You see brothers and sisters, the efficacy of our faith and proclamation hinges on the truth that there is more to this life then what we can see or feel; that there is an unseeable and unknowable world. And that is a good thing because we see a lot of pain and suffering and often what we think we know is proven wrong. Brothers and sisters, Miracles and angels remain a part of how God interacts with this world. And I think this world is so hungry for that message. The irony that as the academy and the church become less likely to talk about the unseeable and unknowable pop culture has become a place where things like angels and demons thrive. And not just angels and demons but things like faeries, vampires, and werewolves. It seems like the seat that the church has vacated has been filled by movie producers and novelists and that is dangerous for the stories they tell are rarely about a compassionate God who loves unconditionally and they are never ever true. But the story that the church has to share is very true; angels still walk in our midst, defending us from Satan’s wiles, and ministering to us as God’s heavenly host. Throughout scripture we see angels ministering to God’s faithful in a variety of ways. They are healers, heralds of good news, protectors, and even warriors. Today we remember by name the mightiest of all warrior angels. Michael, in Daniel he is called a great prince. He is one of the might archangels who continues to fight by God’s side for our very souls. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians that our true enemies are never flesh and blood, but are what he calls principalities and powers, that unseen world we don’t talk enough about. And in ministry I have seen the effects of this battle in the lives of people I have ministered to, Heather and I have felt this battle being waged in our own lives as we face the trials of ministry, being so far from friends and family, and the struggles that come with trying to be faithful servants of God. And the hard part is the closer we get to God the harder His enemies fight. I have told people that seminary is the devil’s playground. I have never seen so many people in such close proximity struggle with things like divorce, depression, and doubt just to name a few. All these people trying profoundly to become the servants that God is calling them to be. I often wished that we were encouraged to talk about in terms of spiritual warfare. Perhaps we would have been more equipped, more willing to claim the victory that has been promised us. Because brothers and sisters, spiritual warfare is real. And the outcome has been decided and eternity has been won. Yes the closer you get to God the harder God’s enemies fight. But also the closer you get to God the more confident you become that being in God’s hands is the best place to be. And being the recipients of Angelic protection is truly a gift and a blessing. Today we rejoice that as Christians we can know the unknowable and catch glimpses of the unseeable. That we don’t have to turn to Hollywood to feed our hunger for things bigger and greater than ourselves. And we thank God for his everlasting and supernatural involvements in our lives. Please pray with me Gracious God continue to send your angels, that they may protect us in our comings and in our goings, that they may defend us from what threatens our faith in you, and as we breath our last that they may escort us to our eternal home. In Jesus’ name.