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?