Angels have been a part of our faith tradition forever. For a long time they were debunked for being a part of fairy tale religion. In popular culture angels are often portrayed as cute little women or children with wings or halos. For too many people the only angels they know about are members of Anaheim’s baseball team or the ingredient of a popular cake. Our most common usage today is calling someone who does a good deed for someone else an angel.
Now may well be a good time to renew our knowledge of these messengers of God. They certainly date back to the beginning of scripture. Jacob encountered them on a regular basis in Genesis. He even had a wrestling match with one (Gen. 32: 29-32). Jacob’s angel was a muscular male who was more interested in divine revelation than cuteness. The best known angel of course is Michael who served as a protector of biblical Israel. In the Book of Revelation Michael is seen leading a battle for control of heaven against a sinister dragon and his army.
There is also the tradition of guardian angels. These angels are assigned by God to be spiritual guides for each newborn individual. Their job is to look after us and protect us. I sometimes think they get lazy from time to time and shirk their duties. It is up to us to get their attention and remind them of what they were sent to do. We hear about them in Psalm 91 where it is said “..they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” The devil is said to have quoted this Psalm to Jesus as he tempted him to leap off the Temple in Jerusalem.
I’ve always understood the guardian angel as a spirit-like figure who hovers over your shoulder. Some say that if you cast a quick glance backward you might catch a glimpse of the little guy. If this is true you are never alone. The angel is always there should you call upon him...or her. The problem for many today is being able to incorporate spirituality into a life cluttered with material things. Maybe this hunger for the spirit is the reason angels are being rediscovered. In the state of our world today this is a good time to get back in touch with these heavenly messengers.
I love the bumper sticker I once saw that proclaimed, “Never Drive Faster Than Your Guardian Angel Can Fly.” Once visiting a California winery I learned that kegs of wine are allowed to “breathe” in order to release some of their essence. This is called the “angel’s share”. And I’ve always loved Willie Nelson’s famous song explaining why tragedy often claims good people. It’s called, “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground”.
Maybe there is an angel in your life? Think of the possibility of this special being hovering over you in your travels. But also remember they are messengers of God and they want only the best for you. There is nothing wrong with believing in true angels and making friends with these companions from beyond. In this crazy time it may well be worth becoming acquainted with them.
Rev. Warren Murphy is the Episcopal board representative for WIN and lives in Cody, WY.