March 17 – Of Saints and Angels

Saint Patrick

A few days ago Franklin Graham posted a wonderful story on his Facebook page. It was linked from CNN and tells about a little boy who saved his father’s life. It is an encouraging and heartwarming story and we need to hear more like it. That being said, I know I am going to be called Scrooge.

Here’s Franklin Graham’s post:

Bah! Humbug!

Let me say right off, that I believe the Bible’s stories of God’s messengers, angels, and that some of us may have entertained them unawares. I really do. Yeah, I know, Scrooge.

Nearly 14,000 people shared Graham’s post and nearly 3,000 commented on it, most, as far as I can tell, with their own stories of angelic interventions. One correspondent writes, Once my husband and I were driving across an intersection. I looked both ways and no car was approaching. But as I was beginning to cross, a car appeared completely in my path; right in front of my car. Everything went into stop motion. I was awaiting the crash and the sound of the crash. But the entire car in my path slowly passed by in front of me by 3 inches. The crash never came. I know angels were holding my car in place until that car was out of my path.”

Bah! Humbug!

Yes, in both J.T.’s case and in the case of the woman in the intersection, it may have been angels who got involved in the story. Or it may have been adrenalin. I know, Scrooge.

Too often we settle for a “God of the Gaps,” a God whose presence and activity in our lives simply explains the unexplainable. The God of the Gaps has gotten smaller and smaller as we are able to explain more and more. Again, don’t get me wrong, in our human arrogance we think we have explained more than we have. But be careful of a God of the Gaps. He’s always getting smaller. I know, Scrooge.

Or we settle for a God who is for me, but I don’t know about you. The God who sends angels when some jacks fail but not others, when some cars are in a dangerous intersection but not others, is not a God worth trusting. The question of evil demands a better answer. I know, Scrooge.

Which gets me to Saint Patrick whose day it is today.

Scrooge is going to get rid of the snakes and the green beer, but we are still left with a faithful follower of Jesus Christ who found his savior as a slave and shared is savior with those who had once enslaved him. The story of Saint Patrick is not about luck found in a four leaf clover. It is about faith despite suffering and joy despite danger. It is about a man who knew the power faith in Christ. If you are not familiar with The Shield of Saint Patrick, attributed to Patrick and a portion of which is cited here, use Saint Patrick’s Day to consider the faith it reflects. (And here is a beautiful sung version.)

If you will, we need fewer angels of the sort who flutter around hoping to get to accident scenes just in time, and more models of how men and women of faith live their lives in the hardest of times. We need to know about

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me;
Christ to comfort and restore me;
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger

We need to know the Christ who calls us to share the good news with those we once considered enemies. I’d rather know a God who sustains me in slavery than a God who may (or may not) keep my car from rolling through a dangerous intersection.

J.T. and the lady in the intersection may have had angels watching over them. Patrick knew the Christ who loves him.

Bah! Humbug! And see you Sunday.