The Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels: Michaelmas
29 September 2010
A Sermon Preached by the Rev’d Dr Andrew C. Blume
O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant that, as thy holy angels always serve and worship thee in heaven, so by thy appointment they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Angels are markers of divine visions. Their presence in Scripure signals to us that we are in the presence of the Holy—that which is set apart, set apart as God’s.
The angels in Jacob’s vision, the angels “ascending and descending on” the ladder, lead his eyes upwards to behold the Lord God standing above it all. Jesus tells Nathanael that he will truly know that the Kingdom of God has come when he has seen “heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Sons of man.” Angels point us to the divine, show us we are in the presence of the holy, and reveal the power and glory of God.
Angels show us in wonderfully figurative language God’s majesty in its fullest, the court of heaven defended against the devil and his apostate angels, continually praising God by singing that hymn we know so well, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord Gof of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are filled with thy Glory, Hosannah in the highest.” The angels, all the different kinds of angels about whom we will sing at the end of the liturgy when we join in that wonderful favourite, “Ye watchers and ye holy ones,” all those different angels serve God in his Kingdom and glorify him and his name. They reveal to us the extent of God's Lordship over all creation and they reveal to us the Greatness and Magnificence of God.
Angels are also, however, God's messengers. While many angels praise God in the Heavens, Scripture also tells us that God has sent his angels to us over and over again. The angel came to Jacob and wrestled with him, the Angel walked with Tobit, and the Angel came to Mary and told her that she would conceive and bear a Son. Angels also show us how we are connected with that almighty, powerful, majestic God who reigns on high. Angels have shown us that this Glorious Lord God of Hosts also seeks to engage with his creation. The ladders to heaven in our readings go both ways. Earth may be joined with heaven and heaven joined with earth. This is the expectation that Jesus shares with Nathaniel.
As we celebrate this great feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, as we mark the beginning of our new year of programs and liturgies that glorify God and unite us with him in the celebration of the Sacraments, let us remember that heaven are earth are joined whenever we sing “Holy, holy, holy.” Let us remember that we unite ourselves with the choirs of Angels and Archangels and all the Company of heaven in this celebration. Let is remember that we unite ourselves with all other Christians around the world who mark this feast. And let us know that truly—if even just for a moment—heaven and earth are joined and God gives us a glimpse of his glory in its fullest. Celebrating this Michaelmas in the knowledge of God's majestic promise that we are reconciled with him and with each other, let us be strengthened and go from this place empowered in our ministries in the world.
Andrew Charles Blume+
New York City
Michaelmas, 29 September 2010
© 2010 Andrew Charles Blume