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Last Sunday, one of our scriptures was from 1 Kings, the story of Elijah. For those of you who don’t remember the specifics about Elijah, he was a prophet of the Lord. He fled into the wilderness where, twice, angels brought him food and water. As a child, I always thought of how much Elijah must mean to God who sent heavenly messengers to care for his servant.

Sunday our pastor challenged us to think a little bit differently about the nature of those angels. Why? Because there is more than one definition for the word angel. The way the word is most often used, angels are winged messengers from God.

But there is another definition and that is a person of virtue and good conduct. What if the angels who found Elijah and gave him food and water weren’t winged messengers but ordinary human beings?

So often the problems that we see around us seem insurmountable – poverty, climate change, the health care crisis, the need for affordable housing. It is tempting to look at these massive problems and wait for equally massive solutions. But what if we were to think of Elijah and the possibility of human angels?

I can’t solve global hunger but I can distribute sack suppers twice a month at my church. These aren’t huge meals – just a grilled hot dog, fruit, chips, and a bottle of water. And we give out from 80 to 100 on a really good night. But that’s 80 to 100 people who have a bit of warm food and a friendly word.

It may not seem significant to those of us who have so much. But to those who have food insecurity or perhaps just need to be seen and blessed, it can make an impact.

What problems exist in your community? Where might you go with angels wings.

–SueBE

When Jeannie says it, she means saints, a concept new to her; in her Protestant experience, prayer is “you and Jesus, no one else.” But a brush with Catholicism brought with it the idea of saints as intercessors, friends who sit on your shoulder and pray alongside you. Now Jeannie asks for a few good words every now and again from her new friend, St. Mother Theodore Guerin. But the way she expressed her good fortune (see title above) provoked, yes, a poem.

How do you acquire them
and where do they perch?
Do you feel them as a brush of wings
against your shoulder, or as a rush of wind,
hot, like breath, and intimate? Have they
set up shop (prayers, five cents each, like
a comic strip psychiatry stand) or —
are your insistent wishes just a blip in their routine,
something to do on the way to the fishing hole,
the café, the clean white shops of heaven?
Whatever. The machinery of it is unimportant.
What counts is the concern, unfathomable,
laughable, even, of a child, a nun, a martyr,
of those who burned or hung, lay with lepers
or led armies into battle, who died in perfect faith,
reaching across immeasurable time, to chime in
a single good word: Amen. I thank them for their
affirmation; I hope to join the chorus one day.

Last night at women’s Bible study we read one of my favorite Bible verses.  “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”  Hebrews 13:2.

Of course, the study felt the need to explain to us at great length that it wasn’t the angels that were unaware.  It was the people.  Before last night it never even crossed my mind that that might confuse someone.  We were often a King James household growing up but I don’t recall any confusion as to what this meant. Aid and help those who need it because you never know who it really is.

What does this have to do with shaping our world?  For me anyway, a big part of this is environmental justice.  You don’t dump either your garbage or your tailings in someone else’s yard. You make sure everyone has clean water and access to arable land or the food produced on that land.

This pretty well sums up how I vote.  Are you the candidate who cares for ALL of the people?  Then step aside because I’m voting for the other guy.

I know, I know.  We aren’t supposed to mix religion and politics.  They are both taboo topics.

Then again, that attitude doesn’t seem to have served us very well.  We need to talk and we need to go beyond talk.  We need to step up and shape the world we want to live in and we need to do it now.

–SueBE

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