overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their
testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."
We have come
once again to the end of another St. Michael’s Conference. We have
learned here a little more about God, a little more about our own
souls, and, I hope, a little more about love. We know something
very special here – a fellowship of Christian love – not something
to be taken for granted.
together has been surrounded by prayer. And we have been engaging
in the difficult task of lifting our hearts and minds to see and to
hear something of the divine life – to peer into that hidden realm,
that realm behind the thin veil that separates us from the angels
and archangels and the whole company of heaven who surround the
throne of God – God who glorifies them and they return that glory in
their worship and adoration of the Source of life, light, beauty,
power and love unimaginable.
celebrate in our worship St. Michael and All Angels – who inhabit
that realm unseen and yet not unknown.
The Holy Bible –
God’s word to us – is full of accounts of the ministry of angels,
from the opening chapters of Genesis to the final chapters of
Revelation. We learn that angels are spiritual creatures of a
higher order than human beings. We learn that there are different
species of angels forming a wonderful hierarchy which we will come
to know more fully one day. The Bible speaks of the Cherubims (e.g.
Gen. 3:24; Ezek. 10) and Seraphims (Isa 6), of the Archangels
Michael (Dan. 10; Jude 1:9; Rev 12:7), Gabriel (Dan. 8:16, 9:21;
Luke 1:19, 26) and Raphael (see Tobit in the Apocrypha) and
innumerable hosts of unnamed angels with their various ministries:
which means “who is like God”, we learn from Daniel, is a warrior,
who guards God’s people Israel in the Old Testament and, as we have
heard in today’s lesson from Revelation, is the guardian of the New
Israel, the Church.
Gospel we have heard of the special ministry of guardian angels.
Jesus says, “I tell you in heaven their angels [the angels of the
little ones] do always behold the face of my Father in heaven.”
Jesus is saying that the smallest and weakest, the humblest, have
angels that have the most direct access to the Father to seek
redress for wrongs.
gifted, as we are, with free will. Some have chosen to fall away
from their love of God – Satan and his angels. Yet others have
remained true. And so there is a battle.
We have seen
this battle portrayed wonderfully in the Pageant of Redemption last
night. From the point of view of eternity, the battle is won “by
the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” and yet as
part of God’s providential ordering of creation, from our
perspective in time, the battle is allowed to continue, for a time,
And we know
something of this battle on three levels:
know the battle in our own souls, the more we grow in the spiritual
life. It is the battle to see through the lies and deceits and
temptations of Satan and his angels who would entrap us and then
enslave us in sin. Yet, we are to expect also that when we are
exhausted by these battles fought daily, we may be ministered to by
angels to strengthen and restore us, as our Lord experienced after
40 days of temptation in the wilderness (Matt 4:11).
fight the battle in our relationships with other people – within
families, friendships, at school or at work, in our daily lives in
society. Satan and his angels try to sever our relationships,
making us hurt one another and discouraging us from forbearing, from
forgiving one another. But we seek to hold before our eyes that
kingdom of heaven, God’s kingdom, praying that it may be established
not only in our own souls but in our midst.
battle is being fought at higher levels too – as the Church and as
societies seek to remain faithful to God, to what is true, to what
is just, to what is love. St. Paul reminds us that we fight
“against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”
(Eph. 6:10-18). Some of you will have heard in Fr. Lasky’s class of
the martyrs over the centuries and we have all seen in the real
martyrdoms portrayed in the movie – End of the Spear – on
Wednesday night of those who have been engaged in those higher
battles. You see they were engaged in the battle through love not
just against the sin of individuals but against ideas that had taken
a stranglehold over whole societies.
The wonder and glory of God
is that the battle is won at all levels – in our souls, in our relations with
others, and in the Church and society – as we are reminded in our Lesson, as we
wash ourselves in the Blood of the Lamb and bear witness in our lives to the
Gospel of Truth, in other words, as we are cleansed and made ready to participate in that angelic battle. And
we are encouraged knowing that both in our own battles and in the battles in
high places, there are many more that fight with us than are against us.
In our churches, in our
worship, we perhaps know more certainly than in any other place on earth both
the victory in that battle that is assured to us in Christ, and something of
that realm just beyond our sight. Here in worship we are lifted up in prayer
and transported to eternity. Here we join with angelic voices to proclaim,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory.” (Isa.
6:3; Rev. 4:8) And, at the end of our worship when we sing the Gloria,
we join in with the chorus of angels that first announced to the shepherds the
incarnation of our Lord in a manger in Bethlehem: “Glory be to God on high, and
in earth peace, good will towards men.” (Luke 2:14)
Let us pray that in this
coming year we will all have a greater awareness of the ministrations of angels
who ascend and descend upon the Son of Man (John 1:51). Let us pray that St.
Michael and all angels might be our fierce guardians, and they are fierce, from
all evil. And may God grant that our souls, being washed and purified
continually in the Blood of the Lamb we may, with all angels and archangels, be
courageous bearers of the Truth to the world.
loved not their lives unto the death.