EVENING PRAYER Vespers
on the eve of St Michael and All Angels
(Lutheran Book of Worship, page 142)
As All Saints’ Day (together with All Souls’) is a reminder of the size of the one church in heaven and on earth, so this feast of Michael and the angels is a reminder of the breathtaking size of creation, seen and unseen. The feast teaches an understanding that there are aspects of reality beyond what can be grasped with the senses. Angels, like mortals, are children of the infinite imagination of God. They are a higher order of beings, whose service of God is nonetheless joined with ours (see 2 Kings 6:15-17), and the function of the Preface in the Eucharist is to join mortal songs with the perpetual praise offered by the angelic choirs of heaven.
Following Judaism, Christianity (followed in turn by Islam) speaks of an order of heavenly messengers, the angels, created by God to do his bidding and differing from humans by having a fully spiritual nature and no physical body. They are mentioned by Jesus as watching over children (Matt. 18:10) and rejoicing over penitent sinners (Luke 15:10), and there are numerous references to them throughout Scripture. Michael the archangel is mentioned in the books of Daniel, Jude, and Revelation, as well as in apocryphal literature. Philip Pfatteicher