Homily St Mary’s Marlborough, 29th September 2019
St Michael and All Angels: Genesis 29.10-17 & John 1.47-51
Today, on the 29th September, the Church celebrates the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. A belief in angels, I suspect, is one of the more problematic Christian beliefs in an increasingly secular society.
A few years ago, I read what I thought was a helpful book about approaching a belief in angels (Earth Angels : Engaging the Sacred in Everyday Things by Shaun McNiff) . Its first chapter starts by saying that “Angels are a way of looking at the world, infusing life with creative vitality and renewing our sense of the sacred”. It may be a bit too ‘spiritual’ rather than orthodox religion, but I do feel that this way of looking at the world and God’s presence within it, is valuable, as it can help us to reflect on the importance of material objects and places.
Indeed, our own Bishop Andrew uses the reading from the Old Testament that we just heard as a starting point for his theology of place (Parish: An Anglican theology of place by Andrew Rumsey). A theology of place and objects is ultimately an exploration of the relationship between God, people and the world around us. Places, such as churches or pilgrimage destinations; objects, such as the water in Baptism, and the bread and wine at the Eucharist, only gain their significance in as far as they are essential in the expression of God’s being and our relationship with him.