I Believe in Angels

A Sermon by The Rev’d Joan Claring-Bould

UPDATED Taize Service Book – October 2020

When at night I go to sleep,
Fourteen angels watch do keep.
Two my head are guarding:
Two my feet are guiding:
Two are on my right hand;
Two are on my left hand;
Two who warmly cover;
Two who o’er me hover;
Two to whom ’tis given
To guide my steps to Heaven.

(Engelbert Humperdinck)

At a very young age I learnt this song, and as a child I inherently believed it. There has never been any doubt in my mind about the existence of angels.

Rather over many years I have learned a lot more about how other people have experienced angels and also how the Church has defined the work of Angels based on references to them in Scripture.

We are probably all familiar with the story of the Visitation of the Angel Gabriel the young unmarried girl, Mary, to tell her that God had chosen her to be the mother of God’s Son. We have heard that story so often that it is easy to miss the enormity of that message.

The Bible mentions many angels—sometimes seers see tens of thousands at a time. But for all the angels in the Bible, only two are explicitly named. Gabriel is the first. The other is Michael.

Michael is mentioned in the Book of Daniel in the Old testament. Michael was the advocate of the Jews.

In the New Testament, Michael leads God’s armies against Satan’s forces in the Book of Revelation where during the war in heaven he defeats Satan. In the Epistle of Jude Ch.9, Michael is specifically referred to as “the archangel Michael”. By the 4th century, he was seen as a healing angel. Over time his role became one of a protector and the leader of the army of God against the forces of evil.

Within Christianity there has been a tradition Guardian Angels. A Guardian Angel is an angel assigned to protect and guide a particular person, group or nation. It’s a concept which played a major role in Ancient Judaism. 

A Guardian Angel is assigned to protect you and help you throughout your life, as a reminder of God’s constant and never ending care for you.

(A priest friend of mine told his congregation last week that he thought that the wings of his guardian angel must be pretty tattered, due to the interesting and challenging life he has led.)

So why do I believe in Angels?

Well, for a start, I believe what the Scriptures and the Church and the Church’s tradition teaches me. I believe in the “Holy Angels Bright that sit at God’s right hand”; I believe in the cherubim and seraphim who sing their endless praises of “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, Heaven and Earth are full of your Glory…” to our Creator; I believe in the Angels from the Realms of Glory who sang creation’s story, and proclaimed the Messiah’s birth.

But more intimately than that, I believe in the angels of compassion, the angels of friendship, the angels of encouragement, the angels of comfort, the angels of hope and the angels of healing that God sends to me in the form of a friend or stranger when I need them most.

May the angels of God proclaim to our aching world the Gospel of Healing, to our anxious souls the Gospel of Peace, and to our celebrations, the Gospel of Hope.