For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. – 1 Corinthians 11:10 (NRSV)
I received this plaque in a basket from a silent auction. It’s not really my thing. Partially because of the colors, but also because of the angels.
There are a lot of things I don’t understand in Scripture, and this verse from 1 Corinthians is one of them. (I’m not going to even get in to Paul’s writing on the role – or lack thereof – of women. But if you want to, here’s a good article on that.)
As a parent, I have certainly pulled out the “because I said so” or “because I’m your Mom” cards. But because of the angels? I know I’m not part of whatever insider conversation Paul is having, but I just can’t wrap my head around the angels.As a parent, I have certainly pulled out the “because I said so” or “because I’m your Mom” cards. But because of the angels? Click To Tweet
Anels are not the cherubs portrayed on Valentine’s Day cards. Cherubim (im makes the word plural in Hebrew) are part of God’s angel army. They are scary and powerful. We are first introduced to them in Genesis 3 as they stand with flaming swords guarding the entrance to Eden.
Maybe this is why we pictured angels as being our guardians. They are our muscle in dangerous situations. Somehow, this has morphed into angels as a form of fairy godmother. We’ve stripped them of their power – and their authority. Really, in the same way we often do with God.
Last weekend, our subdivision had a rummage sale and this plaque was one of the things I put down at the end of the driveway for people to take. No one did. I left it there thinking someone will pick it up on their morning walk. No one has.
As I was finishing up my walk this morning, I set my coffee cup down at the end of the driveway to walk around the cul de sac. I encountered a woman I often seen in the morning coming towards me. As I said hello she asked me whether the plaque was part of the landscaping.
I told her that it was my house, and it was available for anyone who wanted it (and she should take it!). She replied that she’s seen it other days, and its message was so important for people to hear. She wanted to leave it there because so many people walk down our street. After I thanked her for sharing this with me, I said she could decide whether it’s there or she takes it home. She could decide each time she walked past.
I think my thing with angels is that I reject how they are portrayed in our culture. I don’t believe we become angels when we die. I don’t believe they hover around us making our life easier.
But I do believe in angels.
Why? Because I believe that God is active in the world. And unfortunately, so is evil. Good is always at odds with evil in the world. We can see this with our own eyes. It mirrors the battle that rages within us. And the battle we cannot see.
I was a little disappointed she didn’t want to take the plaque home, but I really was thankful she shared her feelings with me. It is a message we all need to hear, even though what we hear depends on our understanding of angels. We all need to be reminded that God doesn’t forget us. That we are never left alone to battle the world on our own.
Therefore, while the plaque doesn’t say it how I would, I’ll trust the Holy Spirit to do the work of communicating God’s loving care and presence with us. While it’s too many words to fit on a plaque, I’ll offer here the way I understand God’s angels.
Buried in 2 Kings is the story of Elisha being surrounded by the Arameans. One morning, Elisha’s aide wakes up and sees the Aramean army surrounding them. He frantically reports this to Elisha, who responds:
“Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them.” Then Elisha prayed: “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the servant, and he saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. – 2 Kings 6:16-17 (NRSV)
We should look for the angels in our life, because they are indeed everywhere. God has hemmed us in before and behind in ways we will never truly comprehend. We have the Holy Spirit within us, but we are also never alone, because of the angels. Thanks be to God.
Ever-present God, how amazing that you surround us with your power and strength. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to see you through all the distractions of this world, and we are blind to your presence.
In our blindness, we sometimes follow blind guides. But we want to follow you. You came so that the blind would see. Like Bartimaeus on the road to Jericho, we call out: “Jesus, we want to see!” Like Elisha, we pray: “O LORD, open our eyes so that we may see.”
May we be ever-aware of your ever-faithful presence with us. May our faith in you heal us of our blindness. May sight bring trust – and may trust bring obedience. To you, be all power and glory. Amen.