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Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Linglestown, Pennsylvania, USA

 

September 29 — St. Michael and All Angels

Scripture

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world -- he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah, for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death. Rejoice then, you heavens and those who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you with great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!"

Revelation 12.7-12

Background

Christianity, following Judaism (and followed in turn by Islam), speaks of an order of heavenly messengers, the angels, created by God to do His bidding and differing from humans by having a fully spiritual nature and no physical body. There are numerous references to angels in the Scripture. Michael the archangel is mentioned in the books of Daniel, Jude and Revelation, as well as in other "extra-scriptural" literature.

A cult of Michael originated in Phrygia, where he was venerated as a healer. Hot springs were dedicated to him in Greece and Asia. Beginning the fourth century, churches were dedicated to him, and his popularity spread to the West.

Michael, whose name is popularly thought to mean, "Who is like God?", is usually shown in art as youthful, strong, and clad in armor. He has been regarded as the helper of Christian armies and the protector of individual Christians against the devil, especially in the hour of death.

The special calendar function of Michaelmas (as this day is often called in England) has survived in Great Britain in marking the beginning of the fall term at universities and in the courts of law.


from Festivals and Commemorations
by Phillip Pfatteicher

A Reflection

St. John of Patmos, the author of the book of Revelation was a visionary. One of his visions had to do with warfare in heaven; warfare which had Michael and his angels fighting with God on one side, and the great dragon -- Satan himself -- with his angels on the other side. What St. John saw was a war in which Satan was defeated, and -- with his angels -- was thrown down from heaven to earth.

Which, of course, is a classic case of good news, bad news. First the good news: Satan and his legions have been utterly defeated for all time, and from now on, any claim of his to power is a lie. The bad news? When he was thrown out of heaven, guess where he went? To earth, St. John tells us, to rule here temporarily, but with great wrath because he knows his time is short and that he lives a lie, until the final reign of God ensues.

That is why this day is such an important one for those of us who are the church to celebrate. For the danger is always that we will be deceived by the dragon who holds sway among us; the danger is always that we will be blinded by his lies and his pretensions to power. That is why we need this day -- and especially in such times as we now live. We need this day so we are reminded -- and in the clearest possible terms -- that the power of evil is a defeated power; that it will not win the war, even though it is a present power in our world, and so will win some individual battles. We need this day. For if our God's stock in trade is hope, then the Devil's is surely despair; and, as people of faith, we must not give in to despair; we must not give up on God.

What this day is about, when all is said and done, is the victory of the Risen Christ over death and hell. It was, after all, the Cross and the Blood of the Lamb which finally sealed the victory over evil; a victory even now shared among the Lamb's own people, the Church.

But, given all of this, are you still not sure where you stand when it comes to angels? No matter. What matters is where they stand, and for whom they stand -- the God who has fought for us in Christ through St. Michael and his holy angels, and who has accomplished for us, and for all time, the victory.

Prayer

Everlasting God, you have ordained and constituted in a wonderful order the ministries of angels and mortals. Mercifully grant that, as your holy angels always serve and worship you in heaven, so by your appointment they may help and defend us here on earth; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN

-- Pastor Stickley