Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sermon: St. Michael and All Angels

Sermon for St. Michael and All Angels
St. Philip’s In The Hills Parish, Tucson, AZ
The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse, 
Healing Service, Tuesday September 30, 2014
Lectionary readings for the day, click here.
Open our lips, O Lord,
that our mouths might proclaim your praise. Amen.

Today we commemorate Michaelmas:
the Feast Day of St. Michael and All Angels. 
The word “angel” means, literally, a messenger. 
Messengers can be visible or invisible, human or non-human. 

We gather today to seek healing –
for ourselves and our family
and for many people who seek God’s love,
We gather today to recognize those
healthful spirits that are
depicted in Christian art
·        with wings to represent their capacity to freely through space,
·        with swords to represent their strength,
·        with bright vestments or halos to represent their dazzle.

Angels serve in two main ways:
1st as messengers who serve and praise God and
2nd as signs of God’s power and will.

See, angels reveal God’s grace
in unexpected times and places.
And Michael is the penultimate messenger who “wards off evil and delivers peace at the end of this life’s mortal struggle.”[1]

So I wonder, who are the angels in your life
        Who may have “warded off evil” or simply
        Delivered peace to you in your mortal struggle?
Who are the angels who have, in your past,
who have evoked in you Jacob’s response,
“Surely God is in this place!”
*wait and discuss*

Today’s gospel is from the “call” story of
Philip, Andrew, Peter and Nathanael –
A story in which Jesus invokes angels that
draw us into the mystery
at the heart of Christianity –
that of the simultaneous humanity
and divinity of Jesus.

When Jesus sees Nathanael across the way,
under his breath, Jesus says,
“here is truly an Israelite
in whom there is no deceit.”
Or, in many translations, no “guile” –
no cunning, no craftiness, no slyness. 

Jesus sees only the good in Nathanael.
And, Jesus sees only the good in us. 
But, Nathanael wears his
mistrust, doubt and wariness,
like a protective vest;
“Where did you get to know me?”
(sounds like a human response to me!)

Jesus replies,
“I saw you under the fig tree.” 
Jesus “saw” him even before Philip called him. 
Jesus really “saw” him.

And Jesus sees us, loves us and calls us,
even before we arrived here in this sanctuary.

That’s pretty surprising.  Have you ever had someone introduce themselves to you by saying, “I heard about you from…” or
“Aren’t you the one who lives next door to…”?

Well, Jesus’ remark
surprises even Nathanael,
which is why he responds with
that wild profusion of messianic titles,
“You are the Son of God! 
You are the King of Israel!”
echoing Jacob’s comment,
“Surely God is in this place!”

Jesus says something surprising to us, too:
That the mystery and sureness of God’s love
Sometimes arrives on the wings of angels.

I think that sometimes it is easier
to imagine certain people in my life as angels. 
As messengers.  As gifts of love.

Who are those people in your life now?
*wait and discuss*

Jesus invites Nathanael – and us, to go deeper –
to go beyond a “belief”
and to see greater things than these…
to imagine the heavens opening
and the angels of God
ascending and descending…

We can’t help but make a connection
between this image of angels
ascending and descending
and Jacob’s vision of
the ladder of angels at Bethel

Jesus reveals himself as the ultimate ladder
stretching between heaven and earth,
with angels ascending and descending.

Jesus connects the finite and infinite, time and eternity. 
The angels are messengers of God’s love,
Invoked at every Eucharistic feast:

“Therefore we praise you,
joining our voices with
Angels and Archangels
and with all the company of heaven,
who forever sing this hymn
to proclaim the glory of your Name”

With all the angels who are present
in the Holy Communion, every time,
we are all
utterly transformed by the encounter. 

So today, how is Michael and all the angels –
past, present, and yet to come,
inviting you to find healing and wholeness?

Today’s good news is that
in every single moment,
God and God’s angels are present…
Today, the angels reveal God’s grace
in unexpected times and places. 
Today, God invites us to recognize
all the many angels
who accompany us
on our life journey towards Love.


[1] Holy Women, Holy Men, p. 612

No comments:

Post a Comment