“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending…”
Who are these angels who ascend and descend glorifying Jesus?
Today’s readings shuffle back and forth between visions of angelic angels and “the huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan…and its angels (who) were thrown down (out of heaven).”
There is no denying evil in our midst. The Devil, Satan or whatever is alive and hard at work among us. At times evil may seem to be more “in our face” than the angels of God. However, angels, the messengers of the God of Hope are vital and laboring in our midst. Hope is more than a state of being as to be hopeful; it is an experience, a happening, an event to be witnessed, to be lived. To be alert to Hope as she seasons our lives and our times is to recognize the angels, the messengers of God, ascending and descending.
Recently a severe storm brought down huge trees. City and private clean up crews scoured the town. In our neighborhood a man and his young son drove by offering to clear the street. He asked nothing in return, saying he wanted his son to experience what it meant to be ‘a good neighbor’. Who were these messengers of Hope living Jesus’ message? I witnessed as the father powerfully modeled neighborliness. I offered cold drinks.
While walking our infant granddaughter we came upon a German family. The parents were walking their bikes. A young daughter with her hair in traditional Austrian ‘knots’ was riding in a bike seat attached to her father’s bike. A boy of about 7 with a serious case of ‘bed-head’ was prancing along beside his mother, occasionally reaching out for her hand. I was impressed by how very casual and natural they were together. They were on their way to school – maybe his first day in an American classroom? He was wearing a traditional German backpack, the sort our children used when we lived in Germany. I happened upon these angels of Hope. They were there for all to experience. We did not interact, but as the song goes, “I have been changed for good.” (musical Wicked)
I listened as an NPR reporter documented a graduation. This graduation
taking place in a federal penitentiary. Several inmates were receiving
master’s degrees in counseling. One was said to be so overwhelmed
he cried publicly as he had no private space. Living Hope in the
midst of apparent hopelessness.
These angels of Hope, messengers of God, live among us. We are these angels of Hope. They fill us with Hope, and they live Hope, at times in joy and at times in sorrow, for all to witness and experience. I think it may be possible to experience hopelessness, darkness oneself, yet be living Hope to others. In my personal sorrow and darkness, there may be days and times, I don’t realize that I am an angel of Hope to others.
Remember the story in Genesis – the messengers, angels, come to Abraham and Sarai and tell them that Sarai, who is an old woman, will have a child. Out of view from the messengers, Sarai laughs out loud. Was it a laugh of denial, ridicule or one of joy? When the angels of God ascend and descend there is deep abiding joy that has the potential to transform, if it is noticed, received and responded to.
“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and
the greatest of these is love.”
Who are the angels of Hope ascending and descending in my life?
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