Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Calling All Angels

Let us praise Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Powers, Authorities and Principalities, Dominions, Archangels and Angels for they are the Bodiless ministers of the Unoriginate Trinity and revealers of incomprehensible mysteries. Glory to Him Who has given you being; glory to Him Who has given you light; glory to Him Who is praised by you in thrice-holy hymns.

The other day I told someone that I never really thought much about angels on a daily basis, but maybe I should. And I suspect I'm not the only Christian these days who doesn't quite know how to fit these beings into my cosmology.

It wasn't always like this. When I was a young child I had a habit of endangering my life in creative ways -- playing Jack in the Beanstalk up the farm elevator and falling into our corn crib, or sticking a severed electrical plug into a wall socket because it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was informed, numerous times, that I owed my life to my guardian angel, and the adults around me were not being facetious when they said that; they believed it.

But times change. These days you're more likely to hear an affirmation of angels from outside the Church. Angels make mainline Christians a little nervous -- in some circles talking about angels as real entities is a little like talking about faeries in your garden. Angels would appear to be another casualty of a skeptical age.

But here is what I think: If I can affirm a God who is a Creator -- who absolutely delights in creating -- and who also loves relationships -- so much so that God is a relationship -- why would I dismiss out of hand the idea that God's creativity and desire for relationship is only limited to this world? Why shouldn't there be angels? I don't mean Renaissance cherubs and Victorian ladies-with-wings floating about from cloud to cloud with harps in hand. I mean some strange, wonderful class of being that I can't really imagine, whose reality somehow interacts with mine and with the rest of the material world's...beings who, as the Talmud put it, may stand over each blade of grass commanding it to grow; beings who, perhaps, bring messages from God to people who need them, in ways those people can best understand.

An old college friend of mine, taking a summer semester abroad, found herself broke; flunking her classes. A romance she'd thought was The One had distintigrated. She was no longer sure of her career choice. She seriously considered ending it all. She'd taken to spending some time each day in a city park, listening to music. One day, as she was pondering dark and distressed thoughts, an old man sat next to her on her park bench and asked her why she seemed so sad. At his words all her sorrows and fears tumbled out. After listening for awhile the old man said, "Don't be afraid...everything is going to be all right." And he proceeded to tell her that she'd salvage her grades; that her finances would reverse; that she'd find love again. The next time my friend went to the park, the old man was there; and the next time and the next time. And each time he assured my friend that her life was going to change for the better. And suddenly it did; things started turning around for her all at once. She wanted to stay alive again. She went back to the park as usual, wanting to tell the kind old man that his hunches were correct. But he didn't show up that day. He never came back again, for the rest of her stay. She came back home convinced that she had been visited by an angel.

I'd like to think she was.

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals. Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

St. Michael,stained glass by Harry Wooldridge, St. Michael and all Saints, Weybridge, Surrey  Posted by Picasa


Nicodemia said...

I've heard a story something like that, only this involved a young girl looking after 4 young children for a harrassed Pastor and wife. I see no reason why angels can't be true. When you think how enormously vast the universe is (did you know there are 1,500 galaxies for each person on this earth??) why shouldn't God have created other "beings"? I don't mean, necessarily aliens, but heavenly beings. It would be a bit bare without them!

But, like you said Lchik, they don't have wings and harps, but look like old men, young girls, you and me!

Andy said...

You post reminded me of this quotation from John Henry Newman:

"If I must submit my reason to mysteries, it is not much matter whether it is a mystery more or a mystery less, when faith anyhow is the very essence of all religion, when the main difficulty to an inquirer is firmly to hold that there is a Living God, in spite of the darkness which surrounds Him.... When once a man really, with the eyes of his soul and by the power of Divine grace, recognises his Creator, he has passed a line; that has happened to him which cannot happen twice; he has bent his stiff neck, and triumphed over himself. If he believes that God has no beginning, why not believe that He is Three yet One? if he owns that God created space, why not own also that He can cause a body to subsist without dependence on place? if he is obliged to grant that God created all things out of nothing, why doubt His power to change the substance of bread into the Body of His Son?"

And why not believe in angels?

bls said...

Happy Michaelmas! I wish I could have gone to mass....

LutheranChik said...

Nicodemia: It's easier for me to believe in angels than in a lot of other things.;-)

Mel: I love that.

Bls: Unfortunately, around these parts it's just St. Mike and me...and perhaps the poor being who pulled hardship duty periodically snatching me from the jaws of death during the first three years of my life.;-)