Summary: What can we learn from Angels for the Mission of the Church

Sermon on Angels 29-09-2013

Story: Marie Monsen was born 1878 in Sandviken, Norway and died in 1962.

She was a Norwegian missionary active in North and Central China between 1901 and 1932.

One night, bandits surrounded the mission compound in the city where she was staying. There were hundreds of women and children in the compound.

Miss Monsen had gone down with malaria the night before and she was being plagued by such questions as:

What will you do when the looters come here? When the firing begins on the compound what about those promises you have been trusting in?

She replied: “Lord I have been teaching these young people all these years that your promises are true and if they fail now my mouth will be closed forever. I must then go home.”

She was up all through the night ministering to the frightened refugees and encouraging them to pray and trust in God to deliver them.

Though horrible things happened outside the compound, the bandits left the mission compound alone

In the morning three different families from the neighbourhood asked

“Who were those four people three sitting and one standing who watched from the top of your house all night long”

When she told them that no one had been on the house top, they didn’t believe her. “We saw them with our own eyes”

She then told them that God still sends his angels to guard his children in their hour of danger.

In Matthew 18:10 Jesus speaks of guardian angels when he says,

“See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.”

Jesus certainly believed in Angels as he mentioned them a lot in his teaching.

See Luke 20:36, Mt 22:30, Lk 15:10 to name a few and of course our Gospel reading

I wonder what image the word angel conjures up for you?

Do you think of:

1. Some make believe figure in the same league as Father Christmas – a figure hung up on a tree at Christmas to make it pretty.

2. Or do you think of the angels who announced Jesus’ birth to the Shepherds, or

3. Or if you know your Bible more deeply you might think on the angel sent by God to warn Joseph to flee with the Holy Family to Egypt.

But I guess whatever you think about angels, you are unlikely to think of angels having any effect on you personally.

Did you know that angels are mentioned over 300 times in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation

So what or who are angels?

Angels are essentially “ministering spirits,” (Hebrews 1:14) and do not have physical bodies like humans.

Jesus declared that “a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have” (Luke 24:37-39).

The Bible does, however, make it clear that angels can only be in one place at a time.

They must have some localized presence.

On the one hand angels can take on the appearance of men when the occasion demands. On the other hand, their appearance is sometimes in dazzling white and blazing glory (Matthew 28:2-4).

What is the role of an angel. Although Scripture shows us that angels are God’s messengers, the book of Hebrews tells us that

5-9 God didn’t put angels in charge of this business of salvation that we’re dealing with here. It says in Scripture,

What is man and woman that you bother with them;

why take a second look their way?

You made them not quite as high as angels,

bright with Eden’s dawn light;

Then you put them in charge

of your entire handcrafted world.

When God put them in charge of everything, nothing was excluded. But we don’t see it yet, don’t see everything under human

jurisdiction. What we do see is Jesus, made “not quite as high as angels,” and then, through the experience of death, crowned so much higher than any angel, with a glory “bright with Eden’s dawn light.” In that death, by God’s grace, he fully experienced death in every person’s place. (Hebrews 2:5-9)

The Bible tells us that there are good and evil angels

We are told of the names of just three angels in the Bible

Two of God’s angels in the Bible are:

1. The Archangel Michael, mentioned in our reading from the book of Daniel this morning and

2. Gabriel God’s messenger angel who was sent to announce things such as Jesus’ birth

Interestingly the word “El” is the Hebrew word for God, as we find for example in El Shaddai

And we find this name of God “El” in the two Holy Angels mentioned in the Bible

GabriEL means “God is my strength”

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