‘but they are like the Angels . . .’

Angel, coming into Being . . . ‘Now and not yet’ . . .

In the encounter of Jesus with the Saducees, HeĀ is told a story about a woman who had seven husbands, and then is asked,’at the resurrection of the dead, whose wife will she be?’.

Jesus tells them that they have no idea of the significance of the resurrection, or indeed marriage . . . but another time

What must be understood, is that the Kingdom IS amongst us. In and through the risen Christ it already is and also shall be, and that here and there we see signs of ‘heaven’. Put another way, there are those who live amongst us as angels – sometimes. That is, we may not know such people amongst us, and/or they live thus only for brief moments – their lives giving us a glimpse of the Kingdom of God.

What triggered this post is a story I have spoken about told in the Orthodox tradition. In it, a woman is in Hell. The Angels, whose every desire is to pull her out of Hell search the record of her life for just One act of love. Finally, they discover that once a passing stranger called at her door, hungry and asking her for food. She, rather grumpily it must be said, went to her cupboard, found an old onion and threw it to him, telling him to be gone.

There in that, the smallest of acts, with only the faintest echo of grace, the angels found their chance. And so took the onion which had a long stalk, and lowered it down into Hell, so to rescue the woman and save her . . . Well the rest of the rather sorry story can be found here

But what has come home to me these past days, is how Unlike the angels we are as yet. THEY anxiously seek for ONE flicker of light and life, ONE sign of Grace, ONE echo of the life of God and latch onto it. ‘Yes!’ they say ‘There!!’ There is a sign that the Goodness of God is present in that person, and so gently and carefully summon it further into Life, as they so carefully sought to draw the woman out of Hell.

So often we are NOT at all like the angels. Our view is So distorted that all we can see is their faults – to the point where we, utterly perversely Deny any goodness, any attempt to live in the Light. We see the splinter in the eye – it becomes our entire focus. We are not desperate that they should be drawn out of Hell. We are not like them, we are not searching anxiously for ONE sign of grace, however weak, however is comes from the wrong place. How unlike children of God, who will go to any length to save us.

He waits, He Watches, and he Runs for the Prodigal who has blown it all – who in human terms has no way back and he knows it – who comes crawling back because he is hungry, who is even now trying to manipulate the Father, who knowing this full well, doesn’t merely accede to his request to be a hired hand, he throws a party for him. In this the feeblest of returns home, the Grace of the Father is Overwhelming

Jesus, continually heals our sight, would we allow it. He teaches us to see as He sees, as the angels see, as the Father sees – constantly on the look out for signs of Life – anxious and ready to Save at the smallest flicker. Let us pray for that same grace, that we might truly be children of our heavenly father, ‘who desirest not the death of a sinner’. Let us be on the look out Night And Day for signs of Grace. And let us eagerly greet and encourage them, even the smallest Hint of Life, even from the very Worst of motives, like those angels with the woman, Like the Father with the child.

And let us pray that the Lord, who will not put out a smouldering wick, will also grant those around US, Grace to see us likewise.

‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain Mercy’

Amen

Through the Bible in a year – January 8

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Genesis 18-19; John 7:1-24; Psalm 11-12

Yet once again our Genesis text takes us into the deep water of the Ancient things that hold the world together. Here in these familiar stories of the visitation to Abram and the destruction of Sodm and Gomorrah – we see how the deep things, that are good can be now in human experience for Good or Evil.

Hospitality is the theme that runs through both – hospitality given and received – honoured and abused. Too many read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah to answer questions the text does not begin to seek to answer. What we see played out here is a society so corrupt that the stranger is seen as means to ends, and not honoured, as The Stranger has just been welcomed by Father Abraham.

We think of the words of the writer to the Hebrews reminding us to honour strangers with hospitality, reminding us of the visit of the LORD to Abraham who entertained angels unawares . . . as did the people of Sodom.

The seriousness of every encounter is laid plain before us. Perhaps this is why we shrink from these texts, finding them Primitive. They are too demanding in setting Reality before us too plainly. as we often say, when thinking of how we treat others ‘it is very difficult’. The text will not allow us this deceit.

God’s presence is Known in hospitality – in giving and receiving it.

This matter of Life is serious, we should not laugh

Who knows who it is that walks among us in secret? What their Promise means?

“In the LORD I take refuge”