ST. MICHAEL AND ALL ANGELS AD 2019
TRINITY EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
REV. KURT E. REINHARDT
Revelation 12:7-12 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short
Luke 10:17-20 The seventy- two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Bad neighbourhoods. Every city has them. Yes, even some small country towns like Listowel, Palmerston, Clifford and Harriston have them. Parts of town that you really don’t want to live in because of what goes on there on account of who lives there. In some cases you don’t even really want to go through them, let alone live in them. In some cities if you have to drive through certain parts of town you make sure you don’t stop for anything. Walking alone, especially at night is not a good idea in other places, because there really are bad people who live there who will do bad things to you if they get the chance.
Bad neighbourhoods. Some are easy to spot because the houses are all run down and there’s garbage all over the place, but others like the one in Port Dalhousie, that we lived near when I was at Seminary in St. Catharines are a little harder to spot. The houses were all well kept with beautiful gardens, but it would have been the last place on earth where you would have wanted to live, because of a certain couple who lived in one of those houses. The thought of what Bernardo and Homolka did in that home is so revolting, that I simply hate to even think about it.
Bad neighbourhoods. Every city has them. Why? Because the universe has them and yes, whether you want to believe it or not there’s one right in your own back yard. Yes, you and I live in one, even if you live as I do in the quiet pastures of Perth County. How can that be? You might wonder. There is no grow-op across the street or crack house next door. There’s no prostitutes standing on the one street corner in Kurtzville. There’s nobody shooting up outside Smith Lumber or the feed mill. And yet, I can confidently say that I live in one of the worst neighbourhoods in the universe and that you do too.
Why? Because we live in the world, and as beautiful as corners of it might be, it’s a scary place, and not just because we seem to be trashing it, as that dear girl from Sweden has been lamenting and protesting this week, but because of who Holy Scripture tells us lives here. But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short. Yes, this planet is one bad neighbourhood. In fact it’s the worst one in the whole universe, because the worst of all neighbours has moved in here. No crack dealer or serial sex offender has anything on Satan, beloved. They are child’s play next to him.
They may do awful terrible things but in the end they are just mortals like you and me. The Devil has not only given himself completely over to evil by eternally turning his back on God, but he also is a mighty spiritual being created by Him in the beginning as one of His greatest and most powerful angels. And not only is he hellbent on hurting and harming as many people as he can, he is at work day and night to have as many as possible to become as hurtful and hateful as he is. There goes the neighbourhood? Indeed. The neighbourhood went bad long, long ago and no, it won’t turn around, not until the piece of work who’s moved in next door is kicked out of town by our Lord on the last day.
Bad neighbourhood? Bad neighbourhood indeed. What else do you call a place where there’s a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour? Careful? Yes, you need to be careful and watchful as you journey through this world because Satan is on the prowl everywhere. There are of course places that you want to steer clear of altogether, because although the devil is lurking about even in the best and most beautiful places like our homes and the Church, playing in his own backyard isn’t going to end well.
Yea, you want to steer clear of some places online, that are Satan’s playground, where he leads you in using other people in the most demeaning ways for your own entertainment and pleasure. Parties where God’s good gift of alcohol and medicine, that have been given for our good are abused for false joy in drunkenness and chemical highs? Yea, those are dangerous places as well, where we can be left vulnerable to Satan’s lead, as we put our God given reason on pause for the night. Kitchen tables where the sweets that go along with the coffee are tidbits of hurtful gossip? Yea, we need to know who’s baking all that up, beloved, and know that taking candy from strangers is no where near as dangerous as sampling those treats.
Yea, there are some places that God warns us to steer clear of altogether in this world, because going into them is simply playing with fire and will leave you burned, and sadly, in some cases burning forever. God warns us away from them because He loves us and doesn’t want that to happen to us. It is also why He doesn’t leave us walking alone, as we journey through this world. He after all knows who’s moved in next door better than we ever will. He knows his strength and power as he knows the treachery and cunning of his foul heart.
He after all has suffered more at Satan’s hands than any of us ever have or will. Not only did He have this beautiful powerful being that He created turn on His eternal love in hate, seeking to destroy all the beauty that He had made, but in the face of all that He gave Himself over into that hate filled being’s hands, so that He could restore the creation that Satan defaced. Yes, all alone, clothed in our weakness, the Son of God endured all that Satan had to throw at Him, so that suffering and dying for our poor broken world and sinners like you and me, He might guarantee its recreation in our resurrection.
That is where the Lord is leading you, beloved, to a world and life free from sin and death and Satan. Until you get there though, He has given you His Word, which is the weapon of light that can keep the Prince of darkness at bay as he seeks to deceive you and lead you away from God and His love for you in Jesus. And as we celebrate today, He has also given you mighty warrior spirits of light to guard the doors of your homes, stand watch over your beds and to walk along beside you as journey through the world.
Bad neighbourhood? Yea, as good as some of our neighbours may be, there is a nasty piece of work that’s living just a few doors down, beloved. Aware? Yes, we need to be aware and on watch, but no we do not need to be worried or afraid, because Christ has faced Him down for us, when He placed Himself in his power on the cross and defeated him by His death. Satan can taunt and tempt you, but in Christ He can never ever get you or have you. Jesus comes to you today in His body and blood so that you might know all the more deeply, that through your baptism you are in Him and He is in you, so that you might live in courage and confidence of this truth, in spite of who lives down the road in this world.
Aware and on watch? Yes. But worried and afraid? No. Because you are a child of God, beloved, and your Father has given His holy angels charge over you to keep you safe, until that glorious day when they will carry you home to Him. Amen.