Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Angels Among Us

Sermon from 7/21/2013

Where is the first baseball game in the Bible? 
In the big innings, Eve stole first, Adam stole second.  Cain struck out Abel, and the Prodigal Son walked home.  The Giants and the Angels were rained out.
(Pastor's Note: There are audible groans from the congregation! Hehe)


We have pictures and statues of them, and most of the time they look like a little baby. But what do angels really look like?

There are some odd things happening in our New Testament reading for today. Did you catch it? Lets look at it again,

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”
So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”
Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.
10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”
13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”
But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

In the beginning of the passage the writer tells us that the Lord appeared to Abraham. But who interacts with Abraham in Sarah in this passage?? Three men.

Scholars have debated what this is. To most it is called a Theophany. God appearing in human form. 
Notice though, there are three men total. 
So does this point to the trinity? Many think so. 
So is it the Father Son and Holy Spirit?
It is interesting that sometimes they speak together and in verse 10 one speaks for the group. And after this there is one voice for the group and the writer tells us it is the Lord.
Now this leads us to believe that God approached Abraham and with Him He brought two angels. It is revealed that as Abraham talked with God about the fate of Sodom, the other two depart to Sodom, and when they get there they are called angels in Genesis 19:1. They are angels, or messengers from God as the word literally means.

This is the first time in the Bible that scripture hints at the nature of angels. Angels can take human form. They can look just like you or me. But the book of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 1:14, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

So angels are spiritual beings and our New Testament reading today says they are of a higher order of being than we are. 

They have the ability to access the throne of God and yet they can blend in with the lot of us.

We don’t think of that usually do we? 

It is a little unnerving to think that there are people around us who are not what they appear to be. 

But they are here to help and serve mankind and assist in God’s plan for our lives.

Usually though, we tend to think of angels as some ethereal unseen force, like our guardian angel who is always with us but never in sight.

Walking down the street, a man hears a voice: "Stop! If you take one more step, a brick will fall down and kill you."
The man stopped; a big brick fell in front of him. The astonished man continued walking to the cross walk.
The voice shouted, "Stop! If you take one more step, a car will run over you and you will die."
The man stood still; a car came careening around the corner, barely missing him.
"Where are you?" the man asked. "Who are you?"
"I am your guardian angel," the voice answered.
"Oh yeah?" the man asked. "Where were you when I got married last week?"

While we do tend to think of angels in a spiritual sense, we neglect the scriptures that hint that they might be all around us.

Hebrews 13:2 tells us that, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Angels can look like you or me. They sometimes appear out of nowhere, a stranger who helps in the nick of time. The magazine Guideposts usually features stories of angels doing just that. From the multitude of stories it appears that at this time in history angels are most active helping people in trouble or preventing them from disaster.

Sharon Thompson, of  Salisbury, North Carolina  gives the following encounter on the Guideposts website: “Swinging on my family’s old metal swing set was one of my favorite things to do. I loved the feeling of soaring over the earth with the cool wind in my hair. One afternoon, my sister and I were so busy swinging we didn’t notice the sky had darkened.
“Girls, come inside!” my mother yelled from the front porch. We jump off the swing set and dashed toward safety.
Kay was faster.
I followed her underneath the 15-foot long wire that connected our TV antenna to the house. The antenna sat on top of an old tree trunk.
Just as I crossed under the wire, lightening struck the tree. Electricity ran through the wire above me, and through the tree into the ground. There was a jolt, and then warm arms wrapped around me. Someone shielded me until the lightning passed.
“There was a man with you!” Kay said when we were all safe on the porch.
My mother looked me over to see if I was okay. She found two large hand-prints on either side of my head! They reached from my ears to the bottom of my neck, and lasted for several hours. But I had never felt any pain—only the gentle touch of a guardian angel who had swooped in to shelter me from the storm.

Stories like this have been told since the beginning of time. People being warned, helped and even saved from death by strangers who simply vanish.

Angels are among us. Just as they were in the time of the Old and New Testament.

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.