Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Michaelmas Triads

The feast of St Michael & All Angels - and one of those golden, autumnal days that make it easy to sense the presence of angels at every turn. I love this feast, which celebrates the constant proximity of heaven...the endless progression of angels up and down from there to here...wonderful.

Last night I was in the congregation to see a friend licensed to a scary but potentially wonderful new post...FabBishop, preaching, talked about three aspects to the angelic calling (to be reflected in the life of the Church)...
"Feet on the ground" - or at least, focussed on the earthing of God's self in the incarnation (so, a church rooted in, and not over against its community)
"Hearts in heaven" - (Where your treasure is....) and
"Lips that tell"....(and, for the churches, LIVES that tell as well...since our proclamation of Good News must be evident in who we are as in what we say)...

Today, at a quietly joyful Eucharist, I reminded the tiny congregation of the traditional attributes of each of the archangels...Michael, (meaning "who is like God") the protector...
Gabriel (the strength of God) bringing good news to Mary "The Lord is with you."
Raphael (the healing of God) and we talked a little about the ways in which we could share in the work, as well as the song of the angels

Later I came home and read in a post by Bishop Nick Baines of another Bishop (Jack Nicholls, late Bishop of Sheffield) He is a speaker at the Southwark Diocesan conference this year, and shared with the clergy a lesson he'd learned from one of his own personal angels, a nun long since gone to her rest...

there are only three things to be involved with as a priest:

* the praise of God
* the pain of the world
* the repentance of the church.

He went on to say that the place and purpose of prayer is to locate us at the place where the love of God and the pain of the world meet … which happens to be where the cross is to be found.

I'm excited to be reminded of this truth, which resonates even more now as I try to serve in these parishes than it did when I first encountered Bishop Jack some 10 years ago, while I was still trying to run from my vocation.

I wish that I had the courage to draw a line under any and every thing that does not, at the end, boil down to one of these three things...my hunch is that all that gives me life in ministry can be distilled into one category or another.
What do you think?


Song in my Heart said...

I probably need to read this in more depth when I'm less tired, because some of it is simply not going in.

So with you on the "lives that tell" bit.

The last bit, about drawing lines... seems to me to be partly about perception. Is there truly any situation where God is absent (and so not to be praised), where the pain of the world is not still with us (waiting to be healed), or where we (the church, humanity, whoever) can honestly say we've never made a mistake?

But consciously engaging with things on that level -- looking for God in each situation, looking for what can be healed in each situation (and how), and seeking awareness of our mistakes and trying to correct them -- seems to me to be a good start.

Chorus said...

On a light note, Michaelmas is my favourite day of the whole year. Mostly because it's my birthday, but also because the imagery around Michael is so... powerful!