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Michael, Raphael, Gabriel etc – all E.T’s

2010 September 29
by Gordon Reid

All orthodox Christians believe in angels, but what are they?

“How many angels can dance on the pin of a needle?” is the ultimate nonsense question from those who have tried to define the angels. But we do have to ask questions about them, for they are a vital part of the record of the Gospels, to say nothing of all the other parts of the Bible where they pop up (or pop down, rather!)

From the host of angels who sang “Glory be to God on high” over the astonished shepherds of Bethlehem, to the bright, shining beings who proclaimed that Christ was risen from the dead, these non-human servants of God mingle their actions with human beings.

So all Christians believe that there exist in this universe beings who are not human but are full of a different kind of life and intelligence, and that they worship and serve the same God as we do.

The angels are the original Extra-Terrestrial beings, and it seems to me that the existence of many other non-human beings scattered throughout this Universe is statistically enormous. It has always been accepted that we shall share the heavenly life with angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim, but how much more mind-blowing will it be to share eternal life with a million different intelligent and God-worshipping aliens!

The poet Alice Maynell touches on this when she writes in “Christ in the Universe”:

“Nor, in our little day,
May His devices with the heavens be guessed,
His pilgrimage to thread the Milky Way
Or His bestowals there be manifest.

But in the eternities,
Doubtless we shall compare together, hear
A million alien Gospels, in what guise
He trod the Pleiades, the Lyre, the Bear.

O, be prepared, my soul!
To read the inconceivable, to scan
The million forms of God those stars unroll
When, in our turn, we show to them a Man.”

Makes some of our little disagreements seem pretty insignificant, doesn’t it?

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Bill Dilworth permalink
    September 29, 2010

    Thanks so much for posting “Christ in the Universe” – I read it years ago and have been racking my brain to remember its title/author.

  2. Bromartin permalink
    September 29, 2010

    WOW !!

  3. Paul Emmons permalink
    October 3, 2010

    Wow from me, too.

    After all, when they appear to us, the first thing they must say is “fear not.”

    On the subject of angels, for me “A Sequence for Saint Michael” by Herbert Howells (text by Alcuin) is a musical wow. Perhaps music moves us because there is music in heaven, and music on earth makes us homesick for where we belong. Such, at least, is the effect of this anthem. Howells himself must have been feeling something like homesickness, thinking of the son he lost at the age of 9 (who he sometimes sensed watching over him and helping him compose), also named Michael. “Michael, hear us, and come down a little while from your heavenly seat.”

  4. Precentor permalink
    October 22, 2010

    I thought Angels were supposedly androgynous – Dionysius the Pseudo Areopagite certainly thought so – but they turn up in many medieval representations wearing stoles, crossed priest-fashion, so obviously considered male. Judging from the wonderful Coventry image, Epstein certainly had no doubts about the Archangel Michael’s gender!

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