Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle…

Today is Michaelmas – the day we read the story from Revelation of the Archangel Michael beating up the beast.

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Oddly, I rather like the feast. It is a day for thinking about dragons and angels, and of course, a rather butch, military Michael with all the host of heaven sweeping in to put all things right.

I grew up surrounded with military metaphors for religion and by and large I laid them aside and left them be. In the Salvation Army there are few things that don’t have military imagery attached to them and it leads to a peculiar and, if you think about it, slightly troubling mindset. Plenty of people get very excited about the idea of jihad, holy war in Islam after all. Yet for most Muslims it doesn’t seem to be very far away from the religious language I grew up with.

I managed to rescue just a little of that spirit a number of years ago. A friend’s son had a terrible car accident and was fighting for his life. At the time I was attached to St Michael and All Saints church in Edinburgh. I remember on the Feast itself looking at a statue of Michael about to slay the dragon and realising that there wasn’t at that moment a better visual representation for how I wanted to pray.

Young man in question lived.

Yet whether we live or die, the faith I profess insists, sometimes against all credible evidence, that goodness is stronger than evil.

Worth making a fuss about, is that kind of sentiment and that is part of the reason I like to keep the feast.

The other part is that in a world where half the population believes in guardian angels and the other half is reading Harry Potter, a feast day with both Angels and Dragons just can’t be anything other than a mission opportunity.

Want to know why your young people don’t come to church. Maybe it is because adults don’t get excited enough about feast days like this one.

Michaelmas – Thursday


We’ve a very special night coming up on Thursday at St Mary’s. We’re keeping Michaelmas with what promises to be a fabulous choral service. The choir will be singing one of my favourite Mozart masses – the Spatzenmasse. That means Sparrow Mass and if you listen carefully, you can hear the chirp of sparrows in the music.

At Michaelmas, we celebrate the victory of light over darkness. The posh name for it is the Feast of St Michael and All Angels. Never mind the sparrows, there will be angels and dragons in the liturgy too.

I’m glad we are having this service. I noticed last year that we were getting pretty good at turning out to the more glum feasts of the church – Ash Wednesday and All Souls and so forth but not very good at keeping the joyous ones. Michaelmas is a chance to simply enjoy  and celebrate with wonderful music and readings that goodness is stronger than evil.

All are welcome to this service, at which a special prayers of thanksgiving will be offered for all those who join in the ministry of welcome at St Mary’s and also for all those who have become connected to the congregation in the last year.

There’s a facebook event that you can use to show you’ll be coming here or to invite others. Oh, and there’s refreshments afterwards.

Kickoff is 7.30 pm on Thursday. Consider yourself invited.


Photograph Credit: Martyn Wright – Creative Commons License