Michaelmas and Fall Term for St. Philip’s

E-mail , St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Easthampton, MA- September 25th, 2016
In many of the world’s English speaking educational systems, September 29th marks the beginning of the fall academic term.  It is called “Michaelmas” term, after this day’s liturgical calendar dedication to “St. Michael and All Angels.”  “St. Michael and All Angels” refers to the four “archangels” mentioned in scripture, Michael being the foremost angelic figure, being mentioned four times: twice in the Book of Daniel, where he is represented as the helper of the Chosen People; once in the Epistle of Jude, where he contends with the devil over the body of Moses; and once in the Revelation of John, where Michael does combat with the dragon. …

The word “angel” refers to those “messengers” of God who have the advantage over mortals because they see God “face to face.”  According to scriptural lore, the angel Lucifer evidently didn’t like what he saw and decided to oppose God and the life God provides.  It is interesting that in the biblical narrative that the answer to the question: “Who or what is the opposite of God?” the answer is “nothing.”  God is.  So, in terms of this question’s theological clarity, St. Michael is seen as the devil’s opposite, fighting for God and against what seeks to undermine and destroy what God has created.

As with a lot in the biblical faith, we have sanitized and neutered the potency of these angel messengers, too frequently picturing them as chubby cherubs in pastel colors, floating about our shoulders.   While godly messengers may, in fact, come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, the work of conveying the God-life (God’s will) demands strength and the clear-visioned perception of God.  There is work to be done on God’s behalf – by all us “messengers.”  There is even the need to fight against what selfishly corrupts and destroys the creatures of God (both within and beyond us).

So it is that I put before you the need to see God and the God-life clearly and then acting in our lives to convey this vision of life.  Angels as “messengers” are not necessarily limited to those beings that are not limited by time and space.  You and I are also called to join the angel armies in carrying the message of God’s life, which provides me with a segue into how you and I as St. Philip’s Church can work on our message and our messaging.

This Sunday, October 2nd, will be the fourth of our quarterly parish meetings.  After worship at 10 o’clock, we will move to the parish house for some important fellowship over a provided meal.  Vestry member Bonnie Pelland has organized a lunch for us, at which we can continue the essential work of knowing one another more personally as parish partners.  At about noon, I will call us to the meeting, where we will continue to report on the status of St. Philip’s andwhat may be next for us.

In the last quarterly meeting, leadership made some commitments to the membership about developing certain aspects of our common life.  We will provide an update on this not only to continue the transparent operation of our church but also as a way of continuing to build trust among us, that we are accountable to one another.  We also hope to generate conversation at this meeting about where St. Philip’s is and how we might continue to build our parish and its ministry up.  We are, after all, partners in this gospel enterprise.

One of the items we will talk about and launch this Sunday is the every member canvass.  Once again, members of the Vestry will function as the “Canvass Committee,” contacting every member of St. Philip’s and inviting them to invest in our life and mission with their financial support.  Our goal once more is to have every household in the parish to make a pledge of support so that the Vestry can continue to develop ministries to our members and to those beyond our walls that make a difference in our lives.

So, my fellow “messengers,” the autumn “term” of the church year has begun.  We have made a good start in this first year together.  Now, we look ahead to the second year to build on what God has called us to be and do.

I look forward to our meeting and to our discussion.  See you Sunday.



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