Good News: A Weekly Update from St Thomas Church—September 29, 2016
Have you had any encounters with angels? There have been many angels in literature, movies and television over the years -- you may remember some of them. Guardian angels adorn many nurseries for the protection of infants and children. I have given more than one new driver a keychain bearing the words, "don't drive faster than your guardian angel can fly." Sometimes I wonder just how fast my own guardian angel can fly... Angels are messengers of God -- indeed, their name comes from the Greek word 'angelos,' which literally means 'messenger.' They are found throughout the old and new testaments, bringing messages to human in all kinds of situations and circumstances; we have names in scripture for four: Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael.
The archangel Gabriel is the one who brought the message to Mary about the child she was to bear, the one we know as Jesus. "The archangel Michael is the powerful agent of God who wards off evil from God's people, and delivers peace to them at the end of this life's mortal struggle." (from 'Holy Women, Holy Men') Raphael is known as the angel of healing, and Uriel is known as “the light of God,” Today, September 29, is the day set aside by the Church to remember St Michael and all angels.
In England, the fall school term is known as the "Michaelmas term" in his honor. Some of my favorite wildflowers are the wild asters, or Michaelmas daisies that pair their purple colors so brilliantly with the golds of goldenrod this time of year. Sometimes we recognize the angels in our lives; at other times it is only in hindsight that we realize that we have entertained angels without even knowing it. As the collect below states, may we give thanks to God for these messengers and protectors who grace us with their presence.
A prayer for the feast of St Michael and All Angels: 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 Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Blessing Animals October 4, is the feast day of St Francis of Assisi. It is in Francis' memory and honor that many churches and animal shelters offer Blessing of the Animals for pets, service animals, and the creatures that share our lives. St Thomas Church will continue its tradition of blessing animals on this coming Sunday, October 2, at the end of each of our worship services. All pets are welcome, appropriately restrained.
You are welcome to bring photos of those pets who are more comfortable at home. We will also remember those animals that have shared our lives but are no longer living among us. Please bring photos. Francis of Assisi was much more than simply an animal lover. Every aspect of his life testified to his dedication to Christ, and his belief in truly living the gospel in humility and generosity.
He was not afraid to speak truth to power, or to give all that he had for the benefit of the poor and to encourage others to do likewise. His love and respect for all of creation can be found in his poetry and his prayers, many of which have survived to this day. One of the prayers attributed to St Francis is found in The Book of Common Prayer on page 833:
"Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen"
Peace and blessing,