I don’t know what you think or feel about Angels, but what I can say is that Angels have always caught the popular imagination. Abba sung about them, and so did Robbie Williams, and of course many of the great hymn writers have written about them. But do we, or dare we, believe in them?
Well, like Abba, I need to be upfront and clear and declare that ‘I believe in angels.’ I believe in them because angelic belief is doctrinally orthodox belief. Just think about it: in a few short minutes I am, during the Eucharistic Prayer, going to suggest that when we come forward to take the sacrament of the Eucharist we do so ‘with the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven,’ and that as we do so we are going to join with them in singing the unending song of praise: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might heaven and earth are full of your glory, hosanna in the highest,’ and that, to borrow a word from the Old Testament reading, is an ‘awesome’ thought. When we pray, our praise is so directed towards heaven and the very stuff of eternity this place, this church, truly, unequivocally, demonstrably, really, truly becomes ‘none other than the House of God.’ Angels exist, first and foremost, to remind us that there really is a world beyond the here and now and that the implication of this is that our praise and worship must be the very foundation of our Christian life.
Humans are designed and created to worship, we can’t escape this fact. The only question is therefore ‘what is the direction of our worship to be?’ Is it to be inward looking and self congratulatory, or outward and upward looking, towards God? There are really only two choices and the angelic mandate is to orientate our worship towards God.
But praise and worship isn’t the only angelic task, for Angels are also heralds of God’s word. Angels remind us that God’s ability to speak into the here and now isn’t contingent on human will, or human intellect; to believe in angels is therefore a call not just to praise and worship but also to humility and to an understanding that there truly is a greatness to the mystery of our faith.
Our faith is a transcendent and mysterious faith and angels remind us of this as they draw us into a company that is far greater, wider, and more diverse than we can possibly begin to imagine. So can I encourage you not to just to believe in angels, but to be open to the exquisitely angelic? Can I encourage you to become angelic?
Now don’t panic, I am not expecting you, although it might be interesting, to turn up next week for our harvest festival in floaty white dresses and tutus!
Rather what I am asking you to consider is integrating the various angelic roles into your life of discipleship. I am asking you to make prayer, praise and worship, central not only to your Sunday by Sunday way of life, but your daily life; to become as the ‘angel voices ever singing.’
I am also asking you, like the angels, to wait on God, listen to His word and then proclaim it. I am, finally, asking you to become part of God’s army, the ‘church militant’ if you like, fighting for good over evil and justice over tyranny, for that is also part of the angelic vocation.
Angels are God’s ambassadors and so should we be.
If we take inspiration from the Angels through the vibrancy of our sacramental worship, through attending to God’s work and then proclaiming it to all who have ears to listen, and if we dare to fight for the good and speak truth to power, then we will be both an ambassadorial church, an angelic church, and a missional church.
We will be a truly Christ-like church, Amen.