Saturday, 29 September 2012

Michael and All Angels

I'm a bit tongue-tied when it comes to speaking of angels. Angels have never featured strongly in my theology.

The idea of angels is popular nowadays. It seems many people who don't have much faith in God are comforted by trust in guardian angels, often of a rather domesticated sentimental variety. I wonder if worship of angels has replace worship of God for some?

When angels are mentioned in the Bible it is usually as God's messengers, who deliver God's message. In St John's visions in the book of Revelation angels and archangels are pictured as created heavenly beings who serve and praise God. If I were to meet one in heavenly form today I think I would be terrified. I think though that I have met angels in disguise - often.

Today is Michaelmas Day, the Festival of Michael and All Angels. The figure of the Archangel Michael in Revelation is described as serving God by leading a heavenly army in the struggle between good and evil, culminating in Michael and his angels ejecting the Devil from heaven:
"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. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." 
Revelation 12: 2-9 NRSV
I read this as a metaphor for the cosmic struggle between good and evil which we see going on in the world and experience in our own hearts. It recognizes the reality of the power of evil. It also rejoices in the power of God to bring good where there is evil, hope where there is despair, love where there is fear and peace where there is war. 

Everlasting God,
you have ordained and constituted the ministries
of angels and mortals in a wonderful order;
grant that as your holy angels
always serve you in heaven,
so, at your command,
they may help and defend us on earth;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Collect for Michael and All Angels



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