The Feast of St. Michael & All Angels

09.29.17 | Pulpit Posts

Today is the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. When I was a seminarian back in the far-off Sixties, angels were distinctly out of fashion. It was the time of Bishop John Robinson’s controversial book “Honest to God” and of the “God is Dead” debate. Everything that did not accord with the rational was under suspicion. So angels and miracles, mystery and heaven, and much more were side-lined in favor of a “religionless Christianity,” a religion shorn of all the fun bits (or so it seemed to me!). Thankfully the dean of my seminary was a person of deep faith with a robust prayer and liturgical life. This meant that he could talk about the contemporary theological scene in the context of historical and catholic theology and of his disciplined life of prayer and worship. But that was fifty years ago and much has changed since then including theological fashions as well as those regarding biblical interpretation. In those years there has been a remarkable revival of interest in prayer and healing, in angels and miracles, and above all in the theology of the Spirit.

Let me share a story with you dating from my early ministry. I was a curate in a church located in a blue collar area of Melbourne in a rather bleak suburb. However there was a remarkable group of parishioners there who taught me a great deal. One day I was to say the regular Wednesday Eucharist at 10am. Normally the majority of the congregation was made up of a bunch of women who voluntarily cleaned the church each week. This particular day there was only one woman present since all the others were away on vacation or suffering winter colds. When Miss Ellice saw me setting up in the Chapel she said to me: “Don’t say the eucharist just for me.” To which I replied somewhat piously: “Miss Ellice, it is not only you and me who will be present for the Eucharist but “Angels and Archangels and all the company of heaven”. She replied, somewhat doubtfully: “Yes, Father.” Yet for all my youthful enthusiasm and piety I still believe I was right. Because as we enter into worship and prayer we do not do so alone for we join with all the faithful, living and departed, with all the saints throughout the ages and with the whole heavenly company which includes angels and archangels. We are all part of a great community of faith which bridges time and space and eternity.

For me angels are an important part of our religious imagination: that God’s presence and communications are “embodied” in angelic form. They are part of our “embodied connectedness” to God. By ancient tradition their leader is Michael the Archangel. The other named favorite is Gabriel who announced the forthcoming birth of the Christ Child to Mary.

I find the angelic metaphor really helpful around the time of death. The words of the “In Paradisum,” often beautifully set to music, say it all: “May the angels lead you to paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city, Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest.” Amen to that.

Bishop Andrew St. John

Bishop Andrew St. John

THE LATEST

Stay current on activity at the Soup Kitchen, guest stories, thoughts from Clergy, news and events.

Subscribe to receive the latest news, events, volunteer opportunities, and more — right to your inbox.

Church of the Holy Apostles

We are an open, inclusive Christian Church celebrating in the Episcopal tradition.

Sunday Service is held 11AM (on site and via livestream). Weekday services are held on Zoom.

LEARN MORE
For Newcomers

Learn about our faith community and explore ways to connect with our work and worship.

Sermons

Reflections on Holy Scripture from our Clergy.

History

Founded in 1844, with a focus on social activism and the desire for social justice.

Clergy, Staff & Vestry

The Vestry is the governing body of the Church of the Holy Apostles.

MUSIC

Music commands a strong presence at the Church of the Holy Apostles.

Space Rental

Host your next meeting or event in our landmark building.

Soup Kitchen & Pantry

Nourishing hungry New Yorkers since 1982 in an atmosphere of respect and hospitality.

LEARN MORE
Daily meal service

Serving a free, nutritious meal every weekday from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

Meal outreach

Distributing bagged breakfasts and lunches throughout Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen.

About the soup kitchen

Learn more about our mission, our history, our performance, who we are, and what we do.

Pantry Program

Providing fresh and nutritious groceries to food-insecure New Yorkers.

Sunday Supper

Bridging generations and building community over a monthly family style meal.

Social Support

Meeting basic needs, stabilizing lives, and supporting individuals and families to achieve their goals.

LEARN MORE
SOCIAL SERVICES

Addressing the needs of the whole person through basic needs, counseling, and referrals.

Classes

Offering learning and skill-building opportunities.

Community Partnership

Partnering with others to expand the services offered to our guests.

Get Involved

Holy Apostles is a great place to channel your time, talents and generosity for good.

LEARN MORE
Volunteer

Make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers experiencing homelessness and hunger.

Partner

Join our efforts to serve others and provide for people who are vulnerable.

Donate

Your gift provides food, community, and hope to New Yorkers in need.

The Latest

Stay up-to-date on all happenings at Holy Apostles.

VIEW ALL
Food For The Soul

The official blog of Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen.

Voices of Our Community

Guest stories, poetry, and more.

EVENTS

See our calendar of events.

Church Pulpit Posts

Read weekly meditations written by our clergy.

Newsroom

Holy Apostles in the news.