Monday, October 7, 2013

Sermon for Michael and All Angels

you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

As a church in the 21st century, we have a very complicated relationship with angels. 

The more materialistic understanding of our world has led many people to think that if they can’t see or touch something, it can’t be real, or can’t exist.  
Many within the church have this attitude.
I mean, we can accept we can’t see God, and we believe he exists, but anything else, not really.

The difficulty with such a view is that angels are everywhere in the Bible. 
From Genesis to Revelation, angels pop up everywhere.  
In the New Testament, there is only one book that does not  mention angels, the Letter of James. 

Jesus knew about angels:
you will see heaven opened
and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man
This is my favourite line of scripture. 
I will never forget the first time I heard it. 
It was when I was preparing for confirmation at St Michaels in Christchurch. 
In that line being spoken, I heard the scriptures come to life. 
They became something I lived in, and they lived in me.

You see, the world I lived in before becoming a Christian was filled with talk about angels. 
This was stuff that I understood, this was common to many people I associated with. 
But here, in this line of scripture, there was something greater. 
This Jesus who had come to be everything in my life was saying that these same angels would ascend and descend upon him. 
These same angels existence, purpose and being was, like my own, like all of our own, centred on Christ. 

Like the collect we heard this morning:
Everlasting God,
you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order
the ministries of angels and mortals:
grant that, as your holy angels stand before you in heaven,
so at your command
they may help and defend us here on earth; 

It was that defending we heard about in the Book of Revelation: 

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.
The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated,
and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 

I believe Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, indeed all angels are an important part of our Christian cosmology. 
But, more so, they have a function for us in terms of outreach and evangelism.
While the church has seemed almost embarrassed by angels and does not speak of them very often, 
they are spoken of, written about, prayed to, painted, and reported about by many parts of our society. 

Many people believe in angels, but have no belief in Christ. 

For us, angels can be a middle ground, a meeting place to speak with such people. 

But for today, we celebrate Michael and All Angels. 
We celebrate their being with us, and we worship God with them, as we say every week:
“with angels and archangels, we worship you Father, in songs of never ending praise”

May our liturgy make us aware of our closeness to God, 
and give us a tiniest glimpse of heaven.

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