Heavenly beings known as angels are mentioned often in The Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. And, according to surveys, the majority of Americans believe in them. Pope Francis has said that guardian angels not only exist, but they also help guide our decision-making. This week's clergy discuss how to make the world a better place through angelic acts of kindness, care and support.
Samantha Tetro, Samantha's Lil Bit of Heaven Ministries, East Northport:
Although angels are often portrayed as babies with wings sitting on a fluffy cloud playing harps, nothing could be further from the truth. Angels hold a very strong, powerful (yet humble) presence in heaven. The Hebrew word for angel is mal'ach. It means "messenger" and describes one who carries out God's will. The Bible reveals so much about the fascinating character and nature of angels. Scriptures tell us that angels are created beings (Psalm 148: 2,5) and ministering spirits (1 Kings 19:5, Psalm 104:4, Luke 16:22). Although angels are supernatural beings (and can do supernatural things), they do offer a lot of qualities that we can learn from and choose to emulate in our own lives and in our relationship with God. Angels pray (Revelation 8:3-4), serve (Hebrew 1:14), obey (Psalm 103:20), worship (Revelation 7:11) and protect (Luke 4:10), just to name a few. We, too, can pray to God (and for others), we can serve the Lord (and others), we can obey the Lord and His commandments (blessings always follow obedience), we can worship the Lord by thanking Him for all He has blessed us with, and we can protect what the Lord has given us (children, animals) by doing all we can to keep them out of harm's way.
The Rev. Matt Oprendek, priest in charge, Christ Episcopal Church, Garden City:
Angels are just messengers of God. And, what was the message that angels always brought? They always began with, "Do not be afraid." And almost always, the message was something that was good. For example, "I bring you glad tidings of a child who is born" was the angel's message to the shepherds at Christ's birth (Luke 2:10). Angels said the same thing to Mary: "Don't be afraid, you have found favor with God" (Luke 1:30). In other words, "I have something good to tell you." The take-away is that whenever angels are appearing, they are saying that you don't have to be afraid, and that there's something good in store. And can we not do that for each other? When you are going through a difficult time and someone sits down beside you and says, "You don't have to be afraid. I'm going to be with you in this, and we'll get through it together," that's being angelic. Someone might say after such an experience, "She was such an angel! She was with me the whole time. I felt so much better not being alone." Or reminding people that there are good things in store: "Hang in there; it gets better." Saying that helps convey the message of God, and that's being like an angel. Any time that you tell someone else, "You don't have to be afraid, you are not alone and I care about you" -- that's a message from God. You are not literally an angel, but, figuratively you are functioning like one.
The Rev. A.G. Chancellor III, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Medford:
Based upon my understanding of the Bible, we are not to be more like angels, but more like Christ. Angels are created beings, and, as such, are not the perfect model to emulate. It is Christ who is the perfect model that we should try to be more like. He has shown us how to allow love to be the guiding principle by which we govern our life. And the Bible can be reduced to one word, and that word is "love." In fact, the Bible states, "God is love" (1 John 4:8). Therefore, if we love, we will be more like angels, but, more importantly, more like God. We often hear about someone appearing in our life as an angel, and what we often mean is that the person has come and brought us assistance, has brought encouragement and has been there in a time of need. Since we are to be our brother's keeper, we ought to try to be angels in people's lives as we go from day to day. In the world we're living in right now, we observe the needless violence, hatred, war and disrespect for authority, and we need to begin to demonstrate what God has called us to do, which is to be there for people in a time of trouble, to render assistance, to bring encouragement and to bring love.