Sunday, September 29, 2013

Angels, There When God Knows You Need Them!

Angels are mentioned in the Bible. So they must be real, right? And if they are real then certainly they are not taking a vacation since releasing Peter from jail during his days of ministry, right? (Acts 12:6-12) So surely we must see angels in real life, right? Well, many I suppose may wonder if angels are real and if they are about doing God's business just like the times of old. Scripture reminds us that at times angels take the form of human beings. (Genesis 18 & Acts 12:15) )So there are two events in my life where I wonder if I were being ministered by angels.

The first occurred in Atlanta prior to my entering seminary. I was running late for a meeting on youth ministry in Atlanta. My running late was caused by someone else who had to meet with me about some misunderstanding and it just could not wait! So now I am rushing to the cathedral and was taking a shortcut through an affluent neighborhood (read predominately white in the early '80's)  trying to make up time. Of course this was thwarted by my car getting a flat tire. So I make sure I am on the side of the road of this residential section and get the jack and spare out. Now I have changed tires before. But today I could not get the lug nuts to turn. No matter how hard I tried they would not budge. Then out of the blue a dark red car pulls up behind me and out jumps a black man. He comes up behind me and says, "Let me get that!" He grabs the tire iron and begins to remove the lug nuts effortlessly, grabs the spare putting it on the wheel, tightens the nuts, lowers the jack and then runs back into his car & drives off. I try to talk to him offering him some money but he just waves and drives off. Wonder of wonders I get to the cathedral and sign in just as the opening prayer was beginning.

The second time occurred when I was vicar of a small parish in the mountains of North Georgia. There was another parish making noises of leaving the Diocese over some issues that now have consumed the national church. But this one parish was asking other parishes to join them in their exodus. To this end they were going behind the pastors' backs writing letters to the wardens of the parishes. For the most part my little parish did not go along with this but unfortunately the behind the back communications made communications within the parish on issues that really did not effect us too time consuming and very distracting. I was frustrated and discouraged. My Sunday School Superientendant had left some videos for me to review for the curriculum and so I went to the undercroft of the parish to watch the videos. While doing this I heard foot steps and through the basement door entered a middle aged couple. I introduced myself and they said they were vacationing and whenever they saw the Episcopal Church Welcomes You sign they would stop and see the church. Why they desired to come down to the basement I do not know! So we visited. I do not really remember where they were from. As we talked the conversation turned to my ministry and all the stuff going on. After about an hour I felt a burden had lifted from my shoulders. Now for some reason I assumed the gentleman was a priest so I asked where his parish was. he looked at me and said, "Oh, I'm not a priest, I'm a therapist!" No wonder I shared myself with this couple. We said our goodbye's and they left.

Now were these angelic encounters or just natural occurences in the physical world? Both can be explained by saying nothing was out of the ordinary. The first occurence was definitaley a good samaritan, a man of another race & color stopping to help a stranger in need. The second was just a couple who were vacationing stopping at every Episcopal Church they saw. In both instances I was served by their compassion. Either way, God get's all the glory as there are no accidents in the Kingdom of God. And we are reminded by Scripture to "not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Heb. 13:2) Now this does beg the question, how many strangers that have come into my life really have been angels?