From the Book of Revelation:
The angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow-servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Revelation 19:9-10 – November 13, 2012)
Perhaps among the most familiar words from St. John’s apocalypse, “Blessed are they who are invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb.” They are used as a fraction anthem or invitation to communion in many churches. But in this brief passage from Revelation, the most powerful image for me today is the angel saying, “I am a fellow-servant with you and your brothers and sisters.”
All too often, I think, we go through our daily lives with no an awareness of, nor gratitude for the work of the holy angels in our midst and on our behalf. Modern Christians, especially Protestants and Anglicans, seem to be a reluctant to acknowledge the angelic ministry or to call upon the angels (or the saints) for help. But angels are God’s first creatures; created to sing God’s praise and glory, they are God’s ministering spirits, sent as messengers to God’s people (as Scripture witnesses again and again) and to assistance us as heirs of salvation. The effectiveness of the angels’ work in our lives depends upon our cooperation; the more we cooperate, the better.
So, how do we do that? How do we cooperate with the angels? At the very foundation of angelic cooperation is regular prayer and contemplation of God and God’s messengers. Openness of spirit and readiness of will are the proper attitudes of our prayer.
In Carmina Gadelica, a large collection of hymns, prayers, charms, poetry and rituals gathered from the people of the Highlands and islands of Scotland in the late 19th century by Alexander Carmichael, one finds this charming blessing, which we have used as a dismissal at church services:
The love and affection of the angels be to you.
The love and affection of the saints be to you.
The love and affection of heaven be to you,
To guard you and to cherish you.
We cooperate best with the angels when we accept their love and affection in the spirit of the Blessed Virgin: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.