Today, Sunday, October 2nd, 2016, we observe an unusual day in the church calendar, St. Michael and All Angels day celebrated on September 29th, also known as Michaelmas. It seems Angels are all around us, but just how biblical are these cultural images and uses?|
The doctrine this festival focuses on is all the more needed in a world that likes to draw on the idea of angels, but portrays angels in a way that’s inconsistent or just contradicts Scripture. Scripturally speaking, an angel is a heavenly being which speaks and acts as an agent of God. The good angels are numerous and powerful, and they are ministering servants sent to help God's people in various ways. They are not to be worshiped, nor do we become angels when we die. Perhaps the most important thing to know about angels, is simply what the word angel means – literally, “messenger”. It is the same word which makes up ‘evangelism’ – the good-message or good news. Angels are messengers and as such, it is not so important who and what they are as it is what they do and especially what they say.
Many people reject the existence of angels. Their objections often appear to stem from an intellectual objection to the existence of anything that cannot be seen or verified scientifically, which, we might note, puts God in question as well. We must realize that angels are not merely the Christian version of a fairy godmother who goes around smiling sweetly and doing nice things for people. Angels perform a wonderful ministry for us. They protect us; they work with us and they deliver God's message to us.
Satan and his angels are cast down out of heaven, to the earth. This seems to describe for us what happened sometime between the creation of the angels during the initial six days of Creation and the fall into sin. This battle is what Jesus was watching in the Gospel of St. Luke 10:18 - Satan falling from heaven like lightning.
To be sure, there are false angels, with false messages. Satan himself, a fallen angel, is the father of lies. He wants nothing more than to distort and pervert the true word of God, and turn the good news into bad news. We must constantly pray the Lord sends His angels to strengthen us, and keep us steadfast in the word. If an angel is a messenger, and what's important is not so much the messenger, but the message, then there's another way to think of angels.
That is, we God's people, also bear the message. You speak a message when you confess your faith with others, kneel to receive Christ's body and blood (you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes). Your actions of Christian love and service speak sometimes louder than words about the love that you have first known in Jesus. God has called you to various stations and roles in life – parent, friend, worker, citizen, spouse. In all these callings you are God's agents and messengers to bring his message and his gifts to your neighbor. In this sense, you are angelic. Thanks be to God.
Rev'd. Fr. Colin Humes