Worship Helps for St. Michael and All Angels

This Sunday at Epiphany we celebrate a special festival in the Christian church year – the Festival of St. Michael and All Angels. Angels are the subject of considerable speculation, popular misconception and plenty of mythology. This Sunday we teach the truth of God’s angelic host who are working behind the scenes to fight for Christians and protect us from the forces of Satan, the great and ancient dragon.

The best way to think of what is going on all around us is to consider what happens when an infant’s father goes off to war. All about there is raging conflict, yet the child innocently and happily remains unaware of it. And so with us, while we certainly do have glimpses of the ongoing struggle between good and evil angels, for the most part, we are unaware of the cosmic struggle that is ongoing until the end of days, when Christ returns. And so, on this festival day, we praise and thank God, joining with all the angels, in adoring Him and giving Him glory. 

Artwork: Raphael
Artist: St Michael Vanquishing Satan

Worship Theme: On the Feast of Michael and all Angels, normally set aside for September 29, we give thanks for the many ways in which God's loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly, and we are reminded that the richness and variety of God's creation far exceeds our knowledge of it.

Old Testament: Daniel 10:10-13; 12:1-3 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 He said, "Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you." And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he continued, "Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come." ... "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people-- everyone whose name is found written in the book-- will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

1. When the king of Persia resisted, who came to help?

2. Daniel 12:1 clearly directs our attention to the last days, where the previous chapter ended. This verse contains a statement of horror, but also of absolute victory. Explain.

Epistle: Revelation 12:7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. 11 They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."

3. Who is the dragon Michael and his angels are fighting?

4. John heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.” Why are these words so familiar? Where do you hear them in our Lutheran liturgy?

Gospel: Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, "Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name." 18 He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."

5. Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Why and how did Satan fall?

1. Michael, the archangel came for assistance. He is the commander of the heavenly host of angels.

2. The Last Day (as Jesus also predicted) will be terrible. The Antichrist will launch his final attack on the church. In many respects, we can consider the whole New Testament period as this time of the Antichrist’s attack. But from Scripture’s description, it will intensify as the actual end of the world approaches (see Revelation 20). At the end of the one thousand years, the New Testament period, Satan will be released, deceive the nations of the world, attack God’s city, and be destroyed. Yet Michael, God’s archangel, whom God supports, will fight for God’s people, and those whose names are written in the book of life will endure to the end and be delivered.

3. The great dragon is Satan, the ancient serpent who tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. 

4. These words are familiar. We use them in the Preface for Holy Communion, just before the singing of “Holy, Holy, Holy.” These words – like so many others in our Lutheran liturgy – connect us to both our past and our future.

5. Satan fell from heaven as a result of the preaching of Jesus’ disciples. When a person knows God has forgiven his sins and becomes a member of God’s kingdom, Satan is no longer in a position to charge that person with sin. He can no longer stand before God’s throne; rather, God throws him out. That is what Jesus saw happening as the 72 went out to preach. (Note: This verse helps us understand Revelation 12:10.)

A reading from the Book of Concord for St Michael and All Angels
How the head of the family should teach his household to pray morning and evening Morning Prayer.

1] In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with the holy cross and say: In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

2] Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. If you choose, you may, in addition, say this little prayer:

I thank Thee, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son, that Thou hast kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray Thee to keep me this day also from sin and all evil, that all my doings and life may please Thee. For into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Thy holy angel be with me, that the Wicked Foe may have no power over me. Amen.

3] Then go to your work with joy, singing a hymn, as the Ten Commandments, or what your devotion may suggest. – The Small Catechism, Daily Prayers by Dr. Martin Luther (paragraphs 1-3)

Hymns: 222; 726; 196; 197; 198

726  Christ, the Lord of Hosts, Unshaken

1  Christ, the Lord of hosts, unshaken By the devil’s seething rage,
Thwarts the plan of Satan’s minions; Wins the strife from age to age;
Conquers sin and death forever; Slams them in their steely cage.

2  Michael fought the heav’nly battle, Godly angels by his side;
Warred against the ancient serpent, Foiled the beast, so full of pride,
Cast him earthbound with his angels; Now he prowls, unsatisfied.

3  Long on earth the battle rages, Since the serpent’s first deceit
Twisted God’s command to Adam, Made forbidden fruit look sweet.
Then the curse of God was spoken: “You’ll lie crushed beneath his feet!”

4  Jesus came, this word fulfilling, Trampled Satan, death defied;
Bore the brunt of our temptation, On the wretched tree he died.
Yet to life was raised victorious; By his life our life supplied.

5  Swift as lightning falls the tyrant From his heav’nly perch on high,
As the word of Jesus’ vict’ry Floods the earth and fills the sky.
Wounded by a wound eternal Now his judgment has drawn nigh!

6  Jesus, send your angel legions When the foe would us enslave.
Hold us fast when sin assaults us; Come then, Lord, your people save.
Overthrow at last the dragon; Send him to his fiery grave.

Text: Peter M. Prange, b. 1972 © 1999 Peter M. Prange. All rights reserved. Used by permission.


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