The Rev. Peter M. Carey
Sermon ~ Michaelmas
29 September 2017
The marvelous Feast of Michael and All Angels, called Michaelmas reminds us of the many ways that God’s care watches over us, and God’s love wraps around us in real and tangible ways, even if we are are not always aware of it. Surely, we know, when we take the time to sit, and really pray, that God’s creation is more rich and more grand than we can wrap our minds around in our everyday comings and goings.
Jesus speaks of the ways that God has been at work in the world from the very beginning, and then welcomes his hearers into the deep reality of God’s Kingdom even in their everyday lives. Today’s gospel reminds us that Jesus was no mere wisdom teacher, and that God is not merely the one who created all things at the very beginning, but is at work caring for the world, and wrapping his love around the world, even in first century Palestine, and even today. Jesus gives a glimpse of the deeper reality of God that is omnipresent.
“Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
God is at work in the world, and is on the side of the good. We have glimpses of the panoply of angels scattered around the Holy Scriptures. We are not given detailed descriptions of these figures, but they are real enough for the Hebrews and for the followers of Jesus that they are mentioned throughout the Bible. Jesus speaks of angels rejoicing over penitent sinners in Luke 15, and warns against misleading a child because the child’s angels behold the face of God (Mt 18:10) In the Hebrew scriptures, we have stories of the messengers of God, figures who at first seem to be human, but then perhaps disappear, or are revealed to be otherwise.
Michael (the name means "Who is like God?") is said to be the captain of the heavenly armies. He is mentioned in the Scriptures in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he is said to have disputed with the devil about the body of Moses); and in today’s epistle. He is generally pictured in full armor, carrying a lance, and with his foot on the neck of a dragon.
Remembering the angels remind us that we humans are not at the top of the heap of created beings. Of course, we may live and move and think that we are at the pinnacle, however, some heavenly inspired humility is important for us. In addition, the model of the angels who serve God, and live out God’s love is a glorious model for us. The stories of the angels remind us that it seems that God empowers his willing servants to do good in the world on God’s behalf. Our own call to love and to serve is in concert with these dramatic stories of the angels.