Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Year A Michaelmas 2017 Who Is Like God?
Year A Michaelmas (Observed), 27 September 2017
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Who Is Like God?”
Today we remember Michaelmas. (This is actually Friday, the 29th. And as I was born on this feast day, it is always a special one for me. In fact, when I was priested, Bishop Shannon invoked St. Michael in the Eucharist at my request.) One of the quarter days of the liturgical calendar, along with Lady Day (March 25- The Annunciation), Midsummer Day (June 24), and Christmas (December 25).
Angels, as we picture them, are deep in our psyche, portrayed in art and literature throughout the ages and across cultures. Angels are the messengers of the Divine. In fact, the word we use, ANGEL, is from the Greek word angelos for messenger. We still use it, also, in eu-angelion, good-news, in words like evangelist and evangelical.
My favorite image of angels comes from an obscure movie from German director Wim Wenders. In his movie, Wings of Desire (later remade poorly as City of Angels with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan), and angels are seen in the film as silent watchers. They are everywhere and with everyone. The device Wenders used was in the angelic point of view everything was black and white, and they had black trenchcoats instead of wings. But as the camera panned across rooms and landscapes, people going about their lives had an angel close by. In libraries and such, angels were whispering from behind with fingertips on shoulders affirmations and encouragements. I loved the idea of those “still, small voices” constantly encouraging us with the love of God. In our distracting, multi-colored world it is hard to remember what we are about. We are distractable, and maybe, the angels of our better nature are here to remind us and redirect us to what it is we are to be about.
I truly believe that angels are all around us, as God works in a myriad of ways and means to get the message of love and grace to us. And when I say that angels are all around us, I do not need them to be divine spiritual beings. You can be an angel to me, as I can be to you. God’s message can get to us in a lot of different ways. I know a lot of time, and energy, and money is spent on the idea of angels, and for me, getting bogged down on the details is often moot and it means we are missing the point. Angels are all about the message, and if they are literal, I believe that they would be upset that we were confusing the messenger with the message, which brings us to the namesake of this day, Michael.
I have always loved the idea and image of Michael. Most often he is portrayed with a weapon, a spear or sword, with his foot on the neck of a dragon or demon. We read this morning from Revelation where it is said, “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.”
In the words from John’s Vision, we see that the end is nigh for the Enemies of God. We see that one day the wrong shall fail and the right prevail. We see that Good will conquer Evil. We see that God’s way will became the Way. And through Christ’s work and love for us, we will be invited into God’s Kingdom forever.
So, since Michaelmas is tied to the Equinox which happened last week, may we always remember as the days darken, that there is a light of hope for us. There is Good News and it has a Messenger. When the days get dark, and thoughts go along with them, may your angels constantly remind you of the love of God and the promise of his Kingdom. And may you be like Michael, always delivering the message that his name points us toward. You see, his name is the message, “Who is like unto God?” If we stay looking at Michael, instead of the God he is pointing us to we have missed the his point entirely. Amen