Angels and Warriors Among Us

michael

The Pas Propers / Ordinary 26 – Pentecost + 16
St. Michael and All Angels – Year C
29 September 2019

Genesis 28:10-17
Psalm 103:19-22 BCP pg 460
Revelation 12:7-12
John 1:47-51

God who created all things,
seen and unseen,
make us messengers of your compassion,
so that with Michael and the hosts of heaven
we may end ancient conflicts
and pave the way for justice, kindness and humility;
through Christ, the firstborn of creation. Amen.
__________________________________

It’s not often that we hear from St. John’s Revelation, and to be honest such apocalyptic books of the bible, quite frankly, make us nervous.

They make us nervous because they talk about the end of days. They talk about the time of judgement; they talk about God’s interaction in all things that we can’t even comprehend without a knowledge of the language of faith. And really, they lead to some pretty amazing headlines in the more obscure tabloids.

So, today’s passage tells us about war and rebellion happening in the one place where we would least expect to find war and rebellion: in heaven, the kingdom of God.

At the same time, we read that the rebellion is overthrown, in heaven, and this is what we’re celebrating today. We’re celebrating the general of that battle, Michael, and his efforts to lead his forces in the conflict.

So, as we celebrate, we are aware that our world, as well as the kingdom of God are always in need of warriors, especially today.

We are in need of those who are willing to stand up to defend the helpless, to stop the path of the oppressor, to defend those who are unable to defend themselves.

So, what do we imagine when we think of warriors? Are we thinking of the Archangel Michael, who is celebrated today for overthrowing the dragon, Satan, his brother?

Today’s text tells us: “Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.” (Rev 12:7b-8)

Are we, perhaps, looking to the warriors of the Middle Ages who were armoured, and mounted upon horseback, armed to the teeth, whose job was to protect those under their charge, everything from damsels in distress to the peasant villagers in their territory, as they helped to form the nation’s military might under a king.

Maybe we are we looking to the legends of our individual cultures who give us the great heroes of history, such as Achilles?

Or, do we look to the history of our continent who gives us such people as Sitting Bull, Black Elk, and Pocahontas who all sought the best paths for the people of their day?

At the same time we are able to remember those who came home from the wars, and those who didn’t, who are also warriors and heroes. Those who went away in order to keep harm and violence from our shores, from our lands, and they’ve done an admirable job in their own right.

And there is much we can learn from all of these different kinds of heroes, such warriors who arise when needed, and who continuously put the needs of the people ahead of their own safety. But as we look about us, this world is in need of warriors, once more, although the battle field is different.

We are in need of those who are willing to stand up, in our society, in our world, in the face of evil and of abusive power and speak words of truth and faith at all times.

St. John tells us, today, “10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“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 brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.” (Rev. 12:10-11)

And we can see this today, in the words of the youth who are standing up against gun violence in the United States.

We can see this in the words and the actions of Greta Thunburg who is arguing for the whole of creation and the power backed apathy of our society, fed by greed that has encouraged us to become a global society that refuses to look after the world in which we live.

We see this in the actions of Autumn Peltier who is fighting for clean, usable, and sustainable water, here in Canada, and around the world.

We can see this in the actions of such agencies as KAIROS who seeks eco justice for lands and for people around the world. And in this regard we can remember our good friend Fletcher who was active with them up to the end, or in the actions of my friend James who fought for the emotional wellbeing of others, but lost his own battle.

We can also see this in the actions of those who haven’t made the front pages of the newspapers, and the news feeds who fight for rights, for fairness, and for equality for all of humanity.

Warriors come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all descriptions and for healing of not only the hearts of those caught in the crossfire, but also they fight for the healing of the world, so that there is a future for generations past them.

These youth, these young people are the new warriors who are doing the same thing as the Archangel Michael and his angels did when they “fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.” (Rev 12:7b-9)

And I remember seeing this shift, in our society, in our world the shift that gives us the consumer focused society that we’ve been living for the past 30-50 years.

We went from a world that valued longevity and repairing what could be repaired before seeking the new because we could no longer repair the old.

We’ve gone from that to a society that feels the need to have a new gadget, a new cel phone, a new this or that every time a new edition is released.

We’ve developed a society that seeks self-gratification the accumulation of belongings instead of encouraging us to belong to something bigger than ourselves.

And rampant consumerism, which is what this is, has added the bottom lines of the richest in the world has also added to our garbage dumps.

It’s increased the pollution of the environment, of the air, of the water to the point where it is necessary for the warriors among us to stand up and not only fight for our future, but teach us, once more how to respect and love the creation upon which we live.

And this is where we find ourselves, our world today. We are subject to a war for our world, for God’s creation, because this is the place to which the dragon and his angels have been banished, and they are fighting on to tear apart what God has made, and that includes our relationships with God through Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit.

But this doesn’t mean that we live without hope, or love, or the word of God, because today’s passage also tells us how the war in heaven was won. We’re told “11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.” (Rev 12:11)

And this is important because it means that Michael and the angels didn’t battle the dragon alone, rather God entered the fray, God in the form of the Lamb tipped the scales for the battle and aided in the victory.

And here we find our weapons with which to combat this evil, this war, not just Michael and the Angels, but the Blood of the Lamb, as well, is our tool, our ‘secret weapon’ that is active in our lives of faith, in our actions for the world and against the enemy.

Here we find that we don’t stand alone. Rather we stand, not only with Michael and the Angels, but with the Lamb, who is Jesus Christ.

We stand with such people as Greta Thunburg, Autumn Peltier, Fletcher, James, and all of those who are fighting for clean air, clean water, for the rights and freedoms of all people to live without violence and aggression, and for a world that will continue to revive and thrive into future generations.

Here we stand. We stand with the Lamb, with Michael and all the angels of heaven as we seek to overthrown the dragon and his angels, once again, for our generation, for the and with the next generation as we continue to battle the dragon and his forces, in and through the world.

Here we find that what we truly seek is the peace that passes all understanding, in the world, in our lives, in our hearts, in this place that God has created, not just for us, but for all of life. And we understand that this life is worth fighting for, and it’s worth respecting, always.

Amen.

About pastorrebeccagraham

A Lutheran minister serving an Anglican parish in Northern Ontario.
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