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Guardian Angels

"Guardian Angel" by Cortona

On the church calendar, today is the feast day of guardian angels. The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Matthew 18. However, since I shared something on this text earlier this year, I thought I would offer a comment on guardian angels in general.

A few years ago, I preached a sermon on Christmas Eve all about angels. In that sermon, I had this to say about guardian angels....

We see angels as personal guardians in Scripture. Abraham, when sending his servant to seek a wife for his son Isaac, says that God “will send his angel before thee.” (Genesis 24:7) In our Gospel lectionary reading for today from Matthew 18:10 Jesus says, “See that you despise not one of these little ones; for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my father who is in heaven."

After Jesus’ birth, an angel warns Joseph in a dream to take Mary and the child to Egypt because Herod is going to try to kill the boy. An angel also tells Joseph when it is safe to return home. “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

In short, it is the work of angels to comfort, guide, explain, praise the Lord, announce the good news, and even name the baby Jesus!

One of my favorite stories about angels, outside of the Bible, comes from Billy Graham’s book entitled Angels: God’s Secret Agents. Graham writes:
The Reverend John G. Paton, a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands, tells a thrilling story involving the protective care of angels. Hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters one night, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them. John Paton and his wife prayed all during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see the attackers unaccountably leave. They thanked God for delivering them.

A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Jesus Christ, and Mr. Paton, remembering what had happened, asked the chief what had kept him and his men from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?” The missionary answered, “There were no men there; just my wife and I.” The chief argued that they had seen many men standing guard—hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands. They seemed to circle the mission station so that the natives were afraid to attack. Only then did Mr. Paton realize that God had sent His angels to protect them. The chief agreed that there was no other explanation. Could it be that God had sent a legion of angels to protect His servants, whose lives were being endangered?
I believe the answer is “yes”. Psalm 91 says,
If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
I believe God does not simply provide one guardian angel for each person. I believe God will provide as many angels as are necessary to guard and protect us so that we can achieve his purpose. Our job is simply to claim passages of Scripture like Psalm 91 as our own and trust the Lord to care for us and for those we love. As we do this, it removes a great deal of fear in life. 

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