I’ve been thinking about angels. This thinking was prompted by Graeme Garret’s sermon ‘A Trinity of Angels’ on the second Sunday of Epiphany. In this sermon Graeme commented ‘The gospel highlights three major points where angels appear in the life of Jesus.’ The third one referred to Matthew’s telling of Jesus’ temptation, his experience of wilderness at the conclusion of the which the darkness lifts ‘and suddenly angels came and waited on him’. Referring to our year of darkness – a wilderness experience of global proportions, Graeme wondered ‘Is it possible that this wilderness, like the wilderness Jesus endured, might also be a place of angels; a place of epiphany, which recalls us to the implications of the great eruption of the grace and truth that dwelt amongst us at Christmas?’
So I’ve been thinking about angels and wondering and then on the first Sunday in Lent Mark’s gospel offered us this: And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Mark 9:12-13
And now I’m definitely thinking about angels. Like everyone our family has faced various challenges in the last 12 months, but we’ve been okay for the most part. We’ve experienced much delight in our co-generational share housing adventure which will extend well beyond the originally anticipated unstated time span. We’ve felt gratitude for good health and support networks. We’ve variously adjusted to job losses, under employment, applying for work, working from home, new jobs, restricted movement, lack of exercise, loss of contact with extended family, deteriorating mental health and no haircuts. And we’ve enjoyed the freedom from lockdown and experienced the anxiety about what might come next.
So what about the angels? It’s tricky really because there have been a few very obvious angels but as I reflect more deeply more angels emerge, nothing earth shattering really but definitely life-affirming. One angel is at the other end of the phone with an invitation to go for a walk after worship with her dog. Another angel, again at the other end of the phone, is available to talk about a distressing encounter offering affirmation and advice. Another angel responds to the invitation to bear witness. Two angels stand in the worship space to listen to an encounter with the darkness and offer words of wisdom. Another angel at one time holds a prayerful space and on another shares her own story of personal challenge. Other angels ring up simply to connect. Many angels provide support through the NDIS.
Mutually beneficial angel relationships strengthen family bonds. My constant angel bears witness to my anger, frustration, grief, despair, self-doubt and holds me as I process these dark emotions. My troubled angel reminds me that sometimes just being there is enough. And my younger angels make a commitment to healing whatever the journey takes.
I celebrate the angels who make food for vulnerable people, make and deliver home-made gelato, call and visit and support others in so many wonderful ways; all the angels who helped to make our lockdown worship so rich and beautiful, reminding us of God’s steadfast love for each of us and all creation; the angels who prayed and continue to pray, the angels who make art and create space for others to do the same; the angels who support the men in detention; the angels who stand up to those who would continue to destroy our planet, the angels who call us into relationship with First Peoples.
During this season of Lent we will be exploring the over arching theme of covenant, God’s promise of faithful love. Each of us are angels and can be angels to one another – immersed in grace, people of the covenant, bearers of God’s truth in the simple and yet beautifully complex activity of faithful, loving living.