Happy Michaelmas! Today, September 29, is marked out in the church calendar as the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, or Michaelmas. In the same way that Christmas is a celebration of Christ, Michaelmas, shortening Michael’s Mass, is a celebration of the archangel Michael and the role of angels in salvation history and the lives of Christians. In the Bible, the archangel Michael is described as “contending with the devil” (Jude 9) and defeating him in Revelation 12. More generally, angels are described as being connected with individuals (Matthew 18:10), and in church tradition serve to protect individual believers from troubles within and without.
While we might not often think of angels in modern society, we do weekly acknowledge their presence in God’s kingdom at the liturgy of the table as we join our voices with “angels, archangels and all those in heaven” — recognizing that in Christ we share in a community that spans across heaven and earth, and across time. In our lives, in our following after Jesus, we are not alone. There are others with us, fighting the same fight (and winning!), and providing us their protection. Anglican priest, Tish Warren, wrote a helpful article on her growing appreciation for the angelic a few years back.
We may not celebrate the minor feast of Michaelmas deeply, with the traditional dishes of goose and Michaelmas bannock, but perhaps we can use this day as reminder that we are not without protection in following Jesus, that in Christ we are drawn into mysteries beyond what we see, and are participants in a battle, against the forces of sin and evil; a battle that continues, but with a sure and victorious end.