Monday, September 26, 2016

Sermon for St. Michael and All Angels: "With Angels and Archangels"

+ St. Michael and All Angels - September 25th, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Daniel 10:10-14; Revelation 12:7-12; Matthew 18:1-11

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We read and hear about angels throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament they were sent into battle ahead of Israel’s army, they surround God’s throne room and sing His praise in Isaiah 6.

In the New Testament an angel announces Jesus’ birth to Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist’s birth to Zechariah, and a whole heavenly host appeared to the Shepherds by night to proclaim the birth of a Savior for them and for you. And later, at Jesus’ resurrection, an angel sat on the stone and declared Good News: He is not here; he is risen!

Do you see a pattern there? Angels are God’s messengers. Angels are God’s servants. Angels point God’s people to Jesus. Angels speak, sing, and proclaim Jesus.

And so…today the church is not celebrating “Touched by an Angel” day, nor are we celebrating “Angels in the Outfield” day, or even “Charlie’s Angels” day. It is the lesser known and perhaps even lesser celebrated festival of St. Michael and All Angels.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of an unfamiliar church festival. St Michael isn’t one of the disciples, though he does our Lord’s bidding. He isn’t an evangelist, though he is a messenger of the Good News. And he’s not like the saints of old who were martyred for the faith, though he is a witness to Christ all the same. St. Michael is an angel.

Every Sunday we confess God’s creation of the angels in the Creed. God is the make of all things visible and invisible. And that includes the angels.

And just so we’re clear, angels are nothing like the cute, cuddly pictures we see on Hallmark cards or TV. Isaiah didn’t run up and pinch the cherub’s cheeks and St. John would never have dreamed of giving a noogy to the seraphim. No, angels are not the romanticized creatures we see in most paintings or cartoons. They’re really a bit more like Jedi Knights, or the elves and good wizards of Middle-Earth, or perhaps the Army Rangers or Navy SEALs. They evoke a sense of fear and reverence, awe and holiness whenever they appear.

That’s why the first thing out of their mouths is almost always: “Do not be afraid.”
And the next thing they have to say is some kind of message. After all, that’s their job. Angels waste no time talking about themselves. They have a message to deliver. Angels want no worship or attention focused on them, only that we hear the message.

Like Zechariah who heard the announcement of John the Baptist’s birth. Or Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds who heard the good news that a Jesus was born to save us from our sins.
And so, just like every other major or minor festival day of the church year, today really isn’t a day to celebrate St. Michael just for St. Michael’s sake; it’s about Jesus. There’s a ranking. Michael and all angels understood that, Satan did not. Jesus is the Lord God of Sabaoth, the commander in chief of the heavenly armies. Jesus gives the orders and the angels do his bidding. That’s their job. They’ve no action apart from God’s bidding. God sends. The angels speak. Their task is simple: declare the gospel, and defend God’s people.

Sound familiar? It should. That’s why God calls and ordains pastors to serve his church. God sends and we speak. We’re his messengers sent to do his bidding. Declare his Gospel. Defend the faith. Jesus is our captain and we are his foot soldiers. And our orders are simple: we preach Christ crucified.

But of course, angels and pastors aren’t the only ones called to be messengers of the Good News. As the Apostle Peter writes, we are always being to be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).

So, God sends you to your neighbor, friend, or family and you speak. In your callings – your various vocations – God sends you to do his bidding, to declare the Gospel. Defend the faith. To love others as he has loved you in Christ. To forgive one another as God in Christ has forgiven you. To be messengers of God’s mercy in word and deed. Jesus is the Captain, and you are his soldiers. He is the head and you are the body. He is the bridegroom and we are his bride. O Lord, open our lips and our mouths will declare your praise.

After all, we cannot and do not slay the dragon. Jesus has already done that for you. The devil may scowl fierce as he will; he may fool you into thinking you’re alone on the battlefield, that you’re not the good Christian you promised to be at your confirmation, that you’re better off like Elijah hiding in a cave or Moses stuttering away in fear, or that when God’s Word is declared nothing is happening. But he’s wrong, dead wrong. And besides all that, Satan is still an angel…and a liar…and he’s defeated.

Michael fought Satan and won because Jesus is the boy the devil had feared ever since the Garden of Eden.

We too fight – not against flesh and blood – but against the rulers and authorities of this present darkness. We fight against the devil’s cunning as he sends wave after wave of false teaching. We fight against the devil’s assault on marriage, human life, male and female, and a host of other battlefields. We fight against the devil’s insurgence in our pews, our homes, and his attempts to capture the throne room of our hearts.

But this is St. Michael and All Angels day. And that means you are not alone in the foxhole.
For… the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

Satan is conquered. Your sin is defeated. Death is destroyed. And you are victorious, just like Michael was…all because of Jesus.

And so the closer we are to Jesus, the closer we are to his angels. That’s what we sing every Sunday too, isn’t it…with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven…
You want to see angels? Go to the Lord’s Supper. Search the scriptures. Hear the absolution. Receive the forgiveness of sins. Remember and live in your Baptism. For there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than a thousand who need no repentance.

Today we rejoice in God’s gift of angels. And we rejoice all the more in the message they bear: Jesus born for you. Jesus crucified and risen for you. Jesus ascended for you. Jesus living and reigning as the Lamb who was slain and lives for you. Today really is about Jesus, the one to whom all angels, all pastors, and all people look to as Lord, Savior, and Redeemer.

Do not be afraid. Behold I bring you good tidings of a great joy that will be for all people. For unto us is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.

Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus the crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, just as he said.

A Blessed Feast of St. Michael and All Angels to each of you…

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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