If you are ever to visit my office (which I know you can’t right now, but if you could), you would see that I have a lot of angel representations. Embroidery, statues, artwork.
I like angels. I like the idea that there are spiritual messengers around us. It’s comforting. It’s inspiring.
Angels have a mixed history in Protestantism. While Luther embraced the idea of angels and guardian angels, other reformers and those from our own puritan heritage, viewed the idea of angels with suspicion. They had great concern that prayers that should be going to God via Jesus would instead be directed to angels. So they were purged from a good deal of early Protestantism.
Biblically, though, angels are kind of hard to overlook. They show up a lot. Eighteen times in the New Testament alone and more than that in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Significantly, they are actively present in the accounts of Jesus’ birth and his death/resurrection. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the angels announcing the “good news of great joy” to the shepherds and, thereby, the world, right?
And Easter wouldn’t be Easter without that angelic question posed to the first arrivals at the empty tomb: “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?”
Angels provide guidance–such as to Joseph and Mary at the news of Mary’s pregnancy.
Warning—such as to the Magi not to return to Herod.
Sustenance—such as to Jesus in the wilderness of temptation.
Comfort—such as to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Healing—such as at the Pool of Bethesda.
Freedom—such as at Peter’s release from prison.
Motivation—such as to those who witnessed the Ascension.
And glimpses of heaven—such as those found throughout the Book Revelation.
Angels are often recognized as being around only after the fact. They come in many disguises but they always come representing God and God’s light in the world.
One of the things that inspires me about angels is that we can mimic their presence ourselves by the way we react to things and interact with one another. After all, Psalm 8 reminds us that we are “made only a little lower than the angels.”
Angels provide a bridge between heaven and earth; between us and God. As we live out our discipleship in this Easter season, we can strengthen that bridge for ourselves and for others by conveying the goodness and joy that was there, in the form of angels, at the empty tomb.
After all, I’m sure angels would welcome our help. It wouldn’t hurt to lighten their load!