Today is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels.
At their best, angels are symbols of the vast creativity of the Divine.
At their worst, they’ve been turned into demi-gods and good luck charms.
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all speak of heavenly creatures that convey messages from God. They play a significant part in the Hebrew scriptures, the Gospels, and the Epistles, even if their presence and activity is a bit ethereal and hard to pin down…probably by design, right?
Michael the Archangel is mentioned in the books of Daniel, Jude, and Revelation specifically, and in the apocryphal literature he plays a significant role in the struggle of goodness over wickedness.
In the Roman calendar of saints, three Archangels are commemorated on this day: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Lutherans go for brevity and just lump them all together, probably so as not to pay them undue attention. Angelic beings have a tendency to gain cultic followings among the faithful hoping for Divine favors…something that really doesn’t make much sense for Lutherans.
God favors all people…though Mary is greeted as “Blessed.”
Honestly, you probably don’t want a visit from an angelic being…they sound terrifying. This is why they always begin their address with “Fear not!” because, well, there’s probably much to be feared when they’re in the room.
I’m honestly unsure what to make of this sort of thing, this idea of angels, other than to say that there is much in this world that we don’t really understand very well. And sometimes humans need miracles with legs on…and wings, I guess, and so angels tickle the imagination and tend the fires of hope when not much else will.
Maybe thinking of them as “messages on fire” is helpful…
This feast day is a reminder for me that there are things in this world that I just can’t grasp, really don’t understand, and even struggle to wrap my head and heart around…even good things.
And that’s OK, I think.
It always makes me search for more, for better, for understanding, and hopefully, for a humble stance in the face of the unknown.
-some historical pieces from Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals & Commemorations
-icon written by Natalia Goncharova
-opinions and doubts all my own