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Why I Believe in Guardian Angels

Guardian angels.

Some pastors pooh-pooh the concept as so much sentimental hogwash, but I think that the Scriptures support such an idea (rightly understood). In light of the Feast of St Michael & All Angels this past Sunday, let me offer three Bible passages that, taken together, suggest there is such a thing as guardian angels for God’s people—and to be thankful for them.

Angels, like the Blues Brothers, are on a mission from God.

1. Hebrews 1.13-14
And to which of the angels has God ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Angels, like the Blues Brothers, are on a mission from God. They are the envoys of the Most High: the Greek word angelos literally means “messenger,” and indeed what we most often see angels doing is bringing glad tidings (think of the Christmas gospel from Luke 2).

Hebrews 1 also tells us that the prime directive of the angels is to serve the elect: their job is to look after God’s people. This moves us toward the general notion of angels as guardians, but not to individually-assigned “guardian angels.”

2. Psalm 91.11-12
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

Psalm 91 gets us closer. The “you” throughout these verses is singular: God’s angels are commanded to care for you—yes, you! (Satan takes the “you” to mean Jesus in Matthew 4.)

I suspect that Luther was drawing on this when he included in his Morning and Evening Prayers in the Small Catechism, “Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me.” Luther, at least, didn’t seem to shy away from the notion of an angel guarding him.

3. Matthew 18.10
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

In the context, “little ones” refers to Jesus’ disciples. Thus, we are given the impression that an angelic protector is assigned to each of God’s children: “their angels.” This would seem to fit with the verses from Hebrews and Psalms as well.

So let's put together what we have learned. Angels are 1) servants of God that 2) protect His people 3) individually as well as corporately. It’s as though God gives gracious spies on behalf of His people. Sounds like guardian angels to me!

To be sure, a guardian angel is no replacement for the Holy Trinity. It is not someone to be prayed to or even looked to in times of trial since they’re creatures like ourselves. I will admit, though, that I rest a little easier thinking that my Heavenly Father’s mercy is so bountiful that He would enroll even further care for me.

Others may disagree with this interpretation, and that’s fine; angels are securely on the outer reaches of fundamental Christian doctrine. But take this occasion to heed the Psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!”

News & Notes

  • This Sunday we'll begin a new 3-week sermon series entitled "Parting Words," based on the book of... [Click to read more]
  • What a delight it was this past Sunday as we received 21 (!) new members as part of our family of faith here at Trinity. As St. Paul writes, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth" (1 Corinthians 3.6). Thanks be to God for blessing the ministry of TLC.
  • Okay, this is cool. Comments and insights from Trinity's own David Leege were featured in a column yesterday in the New York Times. That's a first for one of my parishioners! Some of you know that David is a political science professor by trade, so please don't be dismayed that he's commenting on, yes, politics—about which you may or may not agree! 
  • This weekend is the Confirmation Retreat at Camp Arcadia for our young  catechumens. Please keep Lucy, Kate, Sam, and Dominick in your prayers as we kick off this year's Confirmation class and begin this next step in their respective journeys of faith.

From the Church Year

This week the Church Year commemorated the Jerome, translator of Holy Scripture. From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

"Jerome was born in a little village on the Adriatic Sea around the year A.D. 345. At a young age he went to study in Rome, where he was baptized. After extensive travels, he chose the life of a monk and spent five years in the Syrian desert. There he learned Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament . After ordination at Antioch and visits to Rome and Constantinople, Jerome settled in Bethlehem. From the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, he used his ability with languages to translate the Bible into Latin, the common language of his time. This translation, called the Vulgate, was the authoritative version of the Bible in the western Church world for over 1,000 years. Considered one of the great scholars of the early church, Jerome died on September 30, 420. He was originally interred at Bethlehem but his remains were eventually taken to Rome."

“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.”

- St. Jerome

Looking ahead to Sunday

The 17th Sunday after Pentecost
  • Readings
    • Old Testament lesson—Habakkuk 1.1-4; 2.1-4
    • Epistle lesson—2 Timothy 1.1-14
    • Gospel—Luke 17.1-10

+ Grace & Peace +

Pastor Tinetti

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