Today is Michaelmas, the Feast of St Michael & All Angels. (Happy feast day to all Michaels/Mikes & Angelas among my friends!)
In one sense, Michael is an unusual saint, in that almost all saints are humans whose lives demonstrate an unusual awareness of the presence of God. The exceptions are the few angels whose names are revealed to us, including Michael, and in this greater sense Michael is an exemplary saint, for the angels live in unbroken awareness of God’s presence.
Michaelmas is to Michael as Christmas is to Christ: (not a birthday, but) a season of great thanksgiving for what God has done. In Christmas, we celebrate the incarnation, that, in Jesus, God has become one with God’s creation. In Michaelmas, we celebrate divinization, that, by and with and in Christ, creation is being caught up in union with God. Michaelmas is a consequence of Christmas, and its near-completion, as, in the Church calendar, we move towards the Feast of Christ the King.
There is a story in Genesis of a broken man running away from the mess he has created, who, in the restless sleep of drained exhaustion, is graced the vision of angels descending to earth and ascending to heaven. Sent from and returning to God, their beginning and their end. And early in John’s Gospel, Jesus calls another runaway to follow him, saying he shall see the angels of God descending and ascending on the Son of Man, that is, the faithful community which is focused on Jesus, the Alpha & Omega, the source and completion, of angels and disciples alike.
According to later legend, Michaelmas is the day on which Michael defeated the rebellious angel Lucifer, and threw him down to earth; the fallen angel, who landed in a briar patch. Some say you should not pick its fruit, the blackberry, after this date. But if you are looking to celebrate the Feast of St Michael, a blackberry crumble would be appropriate.
Happy Michaelmas! In these days, may you become increasingly aware of God’s presence in our world, in our midst.