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Posts Tagged ‘St. Michael and all angels’

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” St. Matthew 18: 10

Introduction:  The following quote is from Luther’s House Postil  (“House Sermon”: he preached daily in his home) on St. Matthew 18: 1-10.  This is one of the two appointed Gospel lessons for St. Michael and All Angels, see “Read Before You Hear” above.   He is preaching on the Word in which the Lord says that children have guardian angels. He takes up the topic that the Lord highly values children, even to send His “ministering spirits” (Hebrews 1: 14) to guard them. After reading this sermon, the take away can be “things don’t change”.  In negative, sadly yes but also in the positive, in the Godly:  The Lord commands and helps us to raise our children, something no government, nor school can finally do.  Government and school are to protect and defend families, not replace them.

“Whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.” In other words, Whoever is responsible for a child, physically and spiritually, trains him properly so that he learns to know God, learns not to curse, swear, or steal; to him I say that he is receiving me personally, is loving me as if he were carrying me, Mary’s child, in his arms and taking care of me just as my mother Mary has taken care of me. That is preaching ever so sweetly and tugging at us ever so winsomely.

 But why does the Lord do it? Solely for the reason that he understands very well how eager young people are to listen to obscene things and how easily they are misled. Moreover, evil mouths are only too happy to lend assistance here and—may plaintive cries rise to God in heaven!—we now find boys and girls, ten and twelve years old, who can curse and swear a blue streak about hurts, physical disorders, pustules, and the like, and are otherwise devoid of shame and are vulgar in speech. From whom do they learn this? From no one else but from those who should be restraining them, from father and, mother, and from shameful, wicked servants (see footnote below). Young people come to know such things more quickly and pay more heed to them than to the Lord’s Prayer. This has its roots in that old, evil firebrand, our sinful nature, that sticks within us. That is why Christ preaches here so compellingly and admonishes so tenderly to take care of young people, saying, When you train one of these little ones, when they are brought up in the fear and knowledge of God, in godliness and modesty, you then have done me the greatest service. I have assigned my noble servants, the beloved angels, to serve and attend them. Remember this and do likewise, do not offend them, let them hear no evil, and minister to them willingly.

Footnote:  Most of us do not have servants in our homes, but we do have electronic servants:  television, radio, CDs, DVDs and especially the internet.  They are our servants not our masters, yet young people in particular can mastered by them with a false, heretical and devilish view of the world. (And so can adults!) Young people can know a wicked song lyric quicker than the Lord’s Prayer, as Luther points out.  These servants can be wicked and want to master.  Fathers and Mothers, and Grandparents must be, with the angels, on guard for such, restricting at times the abuse the devil heaps on us through them.

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A blessed St. Michael’s and All Angels!

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Let us pray:

everlasting God, whose wise planning has ordained and constituted the ministry of men and angels in a wonderful order, mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve you in heaven, so by your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Lessons:

Daniel 10: 10-14

Psalm 91

Revelation 12: 7-12

St. Matthew 18: 1-11 or St. Luke 10: 17-20

Intro:  “There’s more than what meets the eye” is apropos on today’s feast day of St. Michael and All Angels.  We think what we see and know and feel is all of reality. It’s not.  As we confess in The Nicene Creed, the Lord is the Creator of all things “visible and invisible” and with His angels He protects us even when we are not looking.  Below is a reflection by Rev. Professor Johann Gerhard (October 17, 1582 – August 17, 1637), the great Father of Lutheran Orthodoxy on the angels (as cited The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House):

What is the [angels’] attitude toward men? This the Lord Christ reveals with one word when He calls them “their angels,” that is, angels of the little ones, the servants of the children and all believers. . . . They render this service to every Christian in manifold ways. While we are children, God assigns our angels to us, as Christ tells us in the holy gospel. When we grow older and go our own way, that is, walk in the ways of our calling, God also assigns angels to us (Ps. 91:11,12). When we sleep, the angels watch and protect us against the devil. When we die, they carry our soul to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22). Their protection is ours through life….

Why is that the angels readily serve the believers though they are much nobler and higher than we?

  1.  Because they are confirmed in the good and therefore gladly and fully obey God’s will. God’s will and order is that they serve us (Heb. 1:14). The army of the heavens—sun, moon, and stars—maintain their order given them by God for man’s sake. All the more will the heavenly army of the holy angels maintain its order.
  2.  Because our nature is raised in Christ above all angels and archangels (Eph. 1:20, 21; Heb. 1:4). Therefore the angels do not refuse to serve us men, in honor of the human nature assumed by Christ. As an entire race is brought to honor by a marriage, so the marriage of the Son of God with humanity has restored the human race to honor (Matt. 22:2). What wonder, then, that the angels serve us, since the Son of God, the Lord of the angels, came to earth that He might serve us?
  3.  Because love is pure and perfect in them, the angels joyfully serve us, as does the Lord, who Himself is Love (1 John 4:8), in whose image the angels were created, and who declared: “I will rejoice in doing them good” (Jer. 32:41).
  4.  Finally, because we shall someday be with them in heaven and join their choir in praising God, the angels are happy to serve us here on earth.

For more on St. Michael and All Angels, search this blog.

 

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Note:  An excellent article regarding angels is found on this blog:  St. Michael and All Angels, by A. L. Barry, a former President of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Note also the Angelic Quiz! But for today’s feast:

True/False:  Angels and men are both created by the Lord for praise.

Answer:  Yes.

Some years ago one of my sisters-in-law commented that she could not imagine heaven as continual singing.    G.K. Chesterton wrote that he found it amazing that the Lord created not one daisy but a million daisies.  Chesterton asked:  why?  Because the Lord does not tire in creating.  He  keeps on creating.  Chesterton then points out that in playing with children, they will say, do it again until the adult is plain exhausted. We have a hard time imagine ourselves always singing because the tired Old Adam  is waiting for the final redemption.  We are old.  Children are filled with the exuberance of life.  We are old but our Father is forever young:  do it again.

The sinless angels never tire  of praising. It is like  a song that we sing and love to repeat  in it’s fulsomeness. Do it again. Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemman says that man is homo adorans, worshiping man. We were made to adore that which is not us which is the other (in Greek:  hetero), not worship ourselves, our mirror image, that is , the same (in Greek: homo).

The angels of God worship: pray, praise and sing continually.  When the Lord reveals Himself to His prophet Isaiah in the Temple, the scene is one of worship and adoration:

1In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;

 the whole earth is full of his glory!”

 4And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, andthe house was filled with smoke.  Isaiah 6: 1-4

The thrice-Holy is sung every time in the Divine Liturgy:  “…with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Thy Holy Name, ever more praising Thee and singing:  Holy, Holy, Holy:  the very song of heaven.  We sing the thrice-Holy just before the Word of Institution.

The very song of heaven is liturgical.  On the island of Patmos, when John is granted the apocalypse (literally, revelation), he sees:

 11Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12saying with a loud voice, 

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

 13And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 

14And the four living creatures said,

“Amen!”

and the elders fell down and worshiped.

A question that plagues certain circles of the Church is about contemporary worship and the uplift that ‘praise hymns’ deliver.  The thinking is that Liturgy is stodgy and does not ‘reach’ people, especially young people.  But the exact opposite point is true:  worship is not to ‘reach people’ ,but God Who has first reached to us in His beloved Son and in the life of Israel.

Further some pastors will argue that Liturgy is not in the Bible.  It is!  Isaiah saw it.  So did John on Patmos.  The longest book in the Bible is a kind of a hymnbook filled with liturgical songs:  Psalms.  In fact, the Temple in Jerusalem was planned according to the Lord’s specs in heaven (see Exodus 25:8-10).  Now, in Christ Jesus, He is the Temple not made by human hands (see John 2:20-22) and,

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1: 3)

And again, He showed to Moses, the various and many Psalmists and John the Word in worship and  “… God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33). The worship of the Church in the Word is just not bound to one place any longer. Liturgical worship is both ordered and the order is in the Scriptures.  This is the heart of faith’s fulfillment of the 1st Commandment, and the 2nd and 3rd as well:  You shall have no other gods before Me.  The angels of God are witness to the true worship of the Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They do not worship themselves and their religious feelings but the fount of pure goodness.  “It often happens-and the danger seems greater today than in earlier times-that a liturgical community measures the achievement of a celebration against its own edification, according to the measure of how much the particpants take part in it and care up in it, instead of being captured by God and His gifts and letting Him take part”, so wrote Roman Catholic theogian, Hans Urs von Balthassar, and then he points out his can happen in both traditional and non-traditional forms.   “…the inclination of a community (is) to celebrate itself instead of God.” Doesn’t that ring true?

Liturgy can get us off ourselves and point us in the right direction. Further, so much contemporary worship is entertainment and in fact one Lutheran pastor extolled “entertainment evangelism”!  But entertainment is for the individual, not the community. We think worship is what I want.  Then it tends toward homolatreia (coined by Rev. Lou Smith), that is worship of the same, not the other and it is the functional synonym for idolatry.  But in  fact, praise itself is communal.  C. S. Lewis pointed out in his book on the Psalms that when we find something good and praiseworthy, we want to have someone else join us, “Isn’t this wonderful?”  Praise,he wrote, is it’s own appointed consummation.  Praise and worship will be consummate in the life of the world to come.  Do it again.  The angels teach us this by their adoration of the Lord.  And we have dress rehearsals every time we come together for prayer and liturgy.

God is glorious with His saints and angels:   Come, let us worship Him.

(Opening versicle for daily prayer)

Let us pray:

everlasting God, whose wise planning has ordained and constituted the ministry of men and angels in a wonderful order, mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve you in heaven, so by your appointment they may also help and defend us here on earth; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen

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