Let God’s Angels Help You
December 2, 2007
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
26And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
28And the angel came in unto her, and said, “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” 29When she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30And the angel said unto her, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. 32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
34Then said Mary unto the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”
35And the angel answered and said unto her, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
38And Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” And the angel departed from her.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! The title and the topic of our sermon today is “Let God’s Angels Help You.” I would like to talk with you today about a topic we don’t talk much about, but one that I think is very important. The topic is angels, and this week and in the weeks to come, I’d like us to think about angels together: Who are they? What do they do? And what impacts can they have on our lives today?
For today, let’s dwell on the question, “Who are angels?” We have a beautiful illustration in this morning’s Gospel of the work of an angel. Let’s take a look at it together. There was a young woman named Mary. She was part of a devout home and a devout family. The great hope of her people was that there would be a messiah, a savior, a king that would rise up in Israel and redeem God’s people and bring them close to God again. No one knew where He was going to be born. No one knew what the circumstances would be. But all had hoped to see His coming.
One day, while Mary was at prayer, she had a magnificent experience. She had a visitation from a being of light. She had a visitation from a heavenly spirit, who came to her and announced his presence. His name was Gabriel. And he came to her, and said, “Greetings, Mary. You are highly favored. You are blessed of the Lord. You are special to the Lord. Greetings to you.”
And she cast about in her mind, wondering what kind of greeting this was. Who was this magnificent being? He was Gabriel. Gabriel means “the one who stands in God’s presence.” And the angel sensed Mary’s fear and said, “Fear not, Mary; you have found great favor with God. If you consent, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and His name will be called Jesus. He will be very great. He will be Son of the Most High God, and His kingdom will have no end.”
And Mary said, “How can this be? I know not a man.”
And the angel said, “God will take care of everything. You will conceive in your womb and bear a wonderful son.”
Mary thought for a moment, and she said such beautiful words. I cherish them in Latin: “Ecce ancillary Domini fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. And this was the great beginning of the coming of Christ to earth, the one who would be king of us all, the one who would open the doors to heaven, the one who would open the bridge between our hearts and the heart of God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
But as we begin this Advent time, let’s think just for a moment about that angel, and about God’s use of angels in our lives. Who are angels? Number one – angels are beings of God. Usually when you hear them expressed in the Bible, it says, “an angel of the Lord.” The part to pay attention to there is ‘of the Lord.’ Angels are in line with God. They are not an alternate spirit. They don’t command attention all by themselves. They are the bridge to the Lord. God uses these creative spirits to tell us things and help us with things and enlighten us about things. But the most important thing to remember is that they are ‘of the Lord.’ They are not independent. They are the messengers of God.
Think with me for a moment of all those times in the Bible when the Lord has used angels. Do you remember the story of Abraham who was so captivated by the idea of the one God and wanted to express his love for God so much, he was inclined to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac to prove his love for God? At the very last moment, just before he sacrificed his son, do you remember what happened? His hand was restrained by an angel who said, “No! Don’t do it! Sacrifice that goat if you must, but don’t touch the boy.” We’re told it was an angel who restrained Abraham’s hand.
Angels deliver God’s messages. It was in a dream that St. Joseph had about the baby Jesus that an angel told him, “Don’t go this way…go this way, to spare the child.” Angels are of God. They deliver God’s messages.
There is a part of scripture that I can barely recite without welling up. It comes to us from the book of Luke, when Jesus is walking with the men on the way to Emmaus. They don’t know it’s Jesus. They’re explaining to Him that that very morning, some women of their company had gone to the tomb and found that Jesus was not there, but they had seen a vision of angels who had told them that He was alive. Angels again, in the Bible.
Who are they? They are of God. They are God’s messengers. They bring God’s messages to people, maybe in a way that might be a little easier for us to accept on a day-to-day basis. There is no disconnection between us and the Lord. Angels are spirits that make that connection a little smoother. Consider that God and the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ are a tremendous powerhouse that provides enormous energy. Angels are like the transformers that bring that power to us. That’s how I think of them. Angels are messengers of God.
So, the questions for us are “Do they still talk to us? Are they still around? Are they still in your life? In mine?” Can we explore that idea with a light heart but with an open spirit? Might it be that we need to listen more for our angel voices, the voice that says, “Go this way; get that done; don’t do that; do this; call that one”? Hearing those voices and feeling those nudges, perhaps we’re walking along the path of God, and we’re allowing God to guide us through those angel voices. This week, let’s listen for the messages of the angels.
Third, I believe that angels are the bringers of God’s comfort. Do you remember the story of Jesus in the wilderness, how He was struggling with Satan? And after all the struggles and temptations, the Bible tells us that angels came and comforted Him and ministered to Him. Maybe angels are spirits that come from God to comfort and bless us and help us out when we’ve been through very difficult trials and struggles. Perhaps this week you will find a peace that can’t quite be explained, a comfort that you didn’t know you could have. Perhaps it’s God working through His angels to bring you the blessing of peace and comfort. Angels of God are remarkable expressions of His love.
This week and in the weeks to come, let’s be open to listening for angel voices, for reminders in the decorations of Christmas of these benevolent spirits that come to usher God’s love and message to our lives, of songs that sing, “Hark! The herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king. Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled,” in the words of Charles Wesley. May it be so for you. Let’s be on a pilgrimage this Advent to listen for our angel voices, for the special blessings of God that come through these unique and remarkable spirits.
May it be so for you, and may you always remember that the angels are expressions of God’s love for you. God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski