“To understand Michael’s character, one must think of the turning of summer to fall. What was given to us from the outside is now going away, and we must cultivate the strength inwardly within ourselves [by grace] what was once given from the outside [by nature]. We now have to bring this out from ourselves. Just imagine the leaves on the trees; the green is being driven out by that fiery red. Those leaves are falling, and the tree has to depend upon a different kind of life in this season, as autumn approaches and we head into winter.” -Conner Habib (as quoted by Mike Morrell)
On Sunday, October 1, we celebrated our Patronal Feast, the Feast of St. Michael (and All Angels). However, it should be noted that this was transferred from the actual feast day of September 29. The teacher and podcaster Conner Habib is quoted above, explaining why this late-September date is so important to the recognition of the Archangel.
Normally when one thinks of Saint Michael, images of warfare come to mind, of dragon-slaying and devil-rebuking. This is not for no reason. It is, after all, exactly how the Scriptures depict him, in Daniel, and Jude and Revelation. But we are learning, I hope, to recontextualize images of warfare from throughout the Bible in order to understand God’s message to us today. And scenes of the Archangel Michael are no exception.
Yes, Michael’s actions depicted in the Scriptures are violent. But these are only the outward expression of a deeper reality – the reality of transition. Transition from one season to the next, transition from one era to the next, even the transition from life to death. I believe this is why Jude 1:9 suggests that Michael stood guard over the body of Moses. It was his job to oversee, not just Moses’ own personal transition into death, but the transition of the nation of Israel from a rescued people, into rescuers. From receiving a blessing, to being a blessing.
Granted, this turned out to be a very long transition. But Michael’s role here should not be overlooked, in the life of Moses, or the life of Israel, or the life of our own church.
A deciduous tree cannot survive in winter the same way it has survived in the summer. And therefore, it must make a rather drastic transition. In God’s glorious creativity, that transition happens to be a beautiful one, blazing with reds, oranges and yellows, to prepare us for a season of brown and white. And so it is, I believe, with us.
Things are changing all around us. Faster than ever. A new season is coming for the world, and therefore, for the Church. And we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit and, yes, the assistance of Michael the Archangel, to see us through. It can be a confusing, and challenging, and frustrating experience. But if we “cultivate the strength inwardly within ourselves [by grace] what was once given from the outside [by nature]” then in our transition we can display the glory of God in blazing technicolor.
We can, and I think we will, pivot from being a saved people, into a saving people. From being the receivers of blessing, into a blessing ourselves. From being the beloved of God, into being lovers of all humankind. Amen.