We Must Have Angels Up Above

                                                                               Midweek Faith Lift

                                                                                 October 26, 2022

                                                      We Must Have Angels Up Above

                                              Clark Ford, Board President, Guest Speaker
When I wrote the song “We Must Have Angels Up Above” about gratitude for the life that we have, I thought I knew what angels were.  But it turns out I didn’t know the half of it.  We know about angels from the Bible and other religious sources, but we also know about angels, or at least what we may call angels, from personal experiences.  People may believe different things about angels, that they are: magnificent, powerful, spiritual, comforting or mighty, mystical, good, loving,  the voice of God, everpresent, helpful, always watching over us.  
James Dillet Freeman wrote:
Angels sing in me.  I rush to write down what I hear.
I carry a pad and pencil everywhere,
for this singing may come at any hour in any place.
I must get it down quickly and turn it into words and phrases
before it passes away, leaving no trace.

The poet Maya Angelou equated angels to love in her poem “Touched by an Angel”:
We, unaccustomed to courage, exiles from delight
Live coiled in shells of loneliness, until love leaves it’s high holy temple
And comes into our sight to liberate us into life.

Charles Fillmore said angels are "the projection into consciousness of a spiritual idea direct from the Fountainhead, Jehovah."  So, we may ask, are angels just divine spiritual ideas or are they actual spiritual beings, or perhaps both?
Lets start with the Bible and then move to other ideas of angels, and personal experiences.  Hopefully we will have time for people to share some of their personal experiences with angels.  The Bible tells us that God created angels as free-willed spiritual beings who live in the heavenly realms, and act as guides, messengers, and - how shall I say this – enforcers in the earthly plane.  
There are different categories of angels, but wings are only mentioned in the Bible for Cherubs and Seraphim who are to both constantly surround God praising Him. 
Cherubs are not baby angels in the Bible, but described in Ezekiel as having four faces: man, ox, lion, and eagle.
Seraphim are fiery and have 6 sets of wings
The only archangel named in the bible is the defender of the faith, Michael, who, among other things fought Satan as related in Revelation.
There are several other angels that play a role in the Bible: Only one is named besides Michael, and that is Gabriel, the messenger, who appeared to Mary to tell her she was pregnant.
Other religious writings and traditions, however, in Christianity, Judiasm, and Islam, name various angels, including Jophiel, Raphael, Uriel, Samael, etc.  The most famous is Lucifer who was cast out of heaven for rebelling against God.
In the Bible, angels appear often, but are unnamed, such as the angel that expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden Of Eden
Or the angel God sent to stay the hand of Abraham at the last minute as he was about to sacrifice Issac.  In Islam, it was Ishmael who was saved.
Jacob dreamed of a ladder spanning  between heaven and earth, with angels both ascending and descending the ladder, perhaps signifying that angels connect heaven to earth.
God sent the Angel of Death to kill all the firstborn male children of Egypt at the first Passover.  Hebrew children were saved in households whose doors were smeared with the blood of a lamb.  Passover is celebrated every year to commomerate the Hebrew freedom from slavery and exodus from Egypt.
An angel appeared in dreams to Joseph on 4 occassions to tell him about the Baby Jesus, and to offer guidence about how to avoid the wrath of Herod.  
An angel appeared in the Garden of Gethsemane to comfort Jesus
And an angel was present at the Tomb when the three Marys came to find Jesus
Angels have been the subject of much religious writing and debate, such as the famous question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
In popular culture many like to think of angels as guardians, helpers, a manifest aspect of God acting in the world in positive loving ways, or to claim people’s souls at their death.   There are angels on stage, in movies and tv series. Often these angels appear in disguise, as human, as in Touched by an Angel.
In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” we learned that every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings!
In some shows Angels are comforting
In others, they are flawed but essentially good
Or have seen better days
And some feature an Angel In Name Only – but still someone helpful and caring
Sometimes Angels play sports
Angels are the subject of cartoons (here one angel is saying to the other “I don’t dance on the head of a pin unless I’m really drunk”
Sometimes Angels sit on your shoulder and whisper in your ear what you know is the right thing, to counteract the tempations of the devil whispering in your other ear...
Angels are the subject of songs
Angels appear in children’s stories
Sometimes we think of people as angels if they are sweet, or are always helping others
Angels are widely depicted in statues, often representing love, healing, the afterlife, or the presence of God
And angels are found in stained glass as well
So angels are embedded in our consciousness and culture.  They are a part of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic religions, and may play the role of letting people see a manifestation of the divine.  Moses saw God in a burning bush
But for others throughout the Bible and throughout history, people have glimpsed the divine through visions of angels.  Some angels are portrayed as women, and others as men, although Angels technically have no gender.  The two named angels in the Bible, however, have male names.
If angels are a manifestation of God, and God created the universe, then does the rest of God’s creation also have angelic properties?  Many would say yes, finding healing, spiritual inspiration, and peace in nature
Many people report profound personal encounters with angels, or angelic energy.  It may come in the form of a voice, a smell, an inner voice, a feeling, or in a dream.
I have not had angel dreams, but many times have felt that someone was watching over me, that divine guidance had helped me avoid a mistake that might have ruined my life or someone else's.  I personally think of this guidance as coming from a spirit guide, but for many there is little difference between spirit guides and angels.
And what happens when we die?  Some who have survived a near death experience report a tunnel, a bright loving light, and perhaps the presence of welcoming angels.
Some believe that we become angels when we die.   I have not found theological evidence of this, but it is a comforting thought for many.  Perhaps if not angels, we become spirit guides for others…
We certainly enter a spiritual form of existence, which we may best understand, perhaps, by reference to the spiritual form of angels.
And so I would like to open the floor up to all of you to share your angel experiences, your conception of angels, or the way angels have touched your lives.

Blessings on the Path, with gratitude to Clark!

Rev. Deb