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Where have all the angels gone?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sermon for Michaelmas Day

Where have all the angels gone?

There are tales of angels fighting enemy forces during battles in the First World War, appearing out of thin air to aid tired and failing heroes. If an angel host fights on your side it means that your cause is just, doesn’t it? Unfortunately these just seem to be just wartime propaganda to justify – even glorify – the cause for warfare.

The precedent is quite clear. The prophet Elisha gets a whole host of angels to stand with him against the king of Syria. If Elisha stands on the cause of God then it must follow that anyone who fights for God’s cause must receive the same treatment.

Then where are they?

[PAUSE]

Elisha gets a host to stand with him, but Jonathan does not.

St Peter is loosed from his chains by and angel, but St James is not.

John the Baptist’s conception is announced by an angel, but Moses’ is not.

In times of despair today, some people are visited by angels and some are not.

Why? Are some of us just not good enough to receive angelic help?

[PAUSE]

This is exactly the same problem that we face when we ask where all the miracles have gone and the answer is the same. Miracles are happening and angels are visiting but we don’t see them and the reason is quite clear. If we had angels in constant visible attendance, the human race would automatically start treating them like genies. The human race would quickly become a collection of spoilt children unwilling to take responsibility for their own actions, unwilling to live the life that God gives us to live as ourselves, unwilling to be transformed into Children of Light.

The evidence for this is very obvious indeed, especially since we seem to regard Planet Earth as something to exploit rather than care for. And we seem to regard other human beings as things to exploit rather than care for. Why should the angels become visible based on this evidence?

[PAUSE]

Let us be clear. To ask whether we are good enough for angels and miracles makes no sense. You might as well have a birthday on October 32nd. You can be rich enough to own a top-of-the-range Mercedes Benz, but you can’t be good enough to own one.

The fact is that we do have angels looking after us all the time. God promises that He will give His angels charge over us to protect us lest we dash our feet against a stone.

Wait! Does this mean that God promises to send an angel to stop us stubbing our toes?

No. Clearly not. This is not what the Psalmist means when he tells of angels preventing us from dashing our foot against a stone. He is speaking of the angels clearing our way to God from obstacles.

This is where the battle lies.

[PAUSE]

We hear St John talk of war in Heaven where the good angels fight the bad. This battle is over humanity, and it is a battle that still rages in Time over each one of us. The angels have only one goal: to get the Children of God back to God. Their battle is unseen and unknown and it is best for us if it remains that way otherwise we would become mere spectators to our own lives.

There are times when God commands the angels to become visible, but only for His purposes and not ours. Someone might say, “that’s not fair! I could do with seeing my guardian angel now!” but who said that God was fair? God is not fair – He is generous, abundantly generous and kind and far above issues of human fairness. Human fairness is often self-serving unlike love and trust. God has His reasons to reveal angels to some and not to others. We need to trust that.

That's not to say that the angels aren't around us now. We could be entertaining angels and not know it.
[PAUSE]
The angels haven't gone anywhere. It's we who are on the journey back to God. Rather than worry about seeing angels, let us be thankful to them for clearing the way back to God Who created both Man and the angels.

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