*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 29th of September 2021. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
So it might be too late. Either you picked your blackberries yesterday and that was the last day to do so, or today is the last day to pick your blackberries. And all of this is on account of the church’s celebration of the events that take place in Revelation 12:7-9. We read:
And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 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.
The legend grew that when the Devil was cast down to earth he landed in a bramble bush (that’s the spiky guy that gives us blackberries). The Devil became very angry and began to stomp, or maybe spit, or maybe more… to the blackberries in his anger, and thus… well it doesn’t make sense. But there is a bigger story to this day than the blackberries.
Today is the observation of Michaelmas- a celebration of the chief of the heavenly hosts- especially a celebration of his victory over the fallen angels from creation and chief of the victorious angels over the devil and his minions. There’s a good chance this day- a really important day for so many, for so long- has passed you by, so let’s break it down.
Michael is one of the few named Angels in the Bible and in the books of Daniel, Jude, and Revelation and he has been honored with a “quarter day” one of the chief days in the Christian year.
May 25th is the first Quarter Day- known as “Lady Day” in honor of the annunciation. The second is around June 25th and is called “Midsummer” or the “Feast of St. John the Baptist”. The 4th is December 25th, “Christ’s Mass” and thus today, the 3rd quarter-day is the feast of the Archangel Michael.
Quarter days were important holidays for both the church and society. These are the days that rent would be due, accounts would be settled and they marked the beginning of a season, in this case, Autumn. And that this day would mark the beginning of the Autumn it also marked the end of the harvest season- thus, stop picking blackberries.
Let’s consider why this Archangel (and the other Angels in some traditions) are given one of the 4 quarter days. Growing up I saw a few too many “Precious Moments” figurines of Angels to think much about them at all. Adorable clay toddlers didn’t evoke much in me. And if I saw a grown-up angel they were usually playing the harp on a cloud. Add to that, growing up in Orange County California, “the Angels” evoked loss and sadness most of the time.
But these messengers have been shown to us, given to minister to us, and ultimately point us to the salvation won by God in Christ. And our ultimate victory in Christ would be an important reminder as the days became short and dark. Consider this old English rhyme for today:
The Michaelmas Daisies, among dead weeds,
Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.
The daisy named for the Archangel Michael is still budding into October. As it gets darker and colder this bright purple daisy continues to bloom. As everything is dying, this still lives. X Michael the Archangel is celebrated today but not just for this mighty past and future victories- but because he points us to Jesus who still lives amidst the dying, and to our past and future victory in Him.
The last word for today comes from 1 Thessalonians:
Brothers and sisters, we want you to know about people who have died so that you won’t mourn like others who don’t have any hope. 14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose, so we also believe that God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus. 15 What we are saying is a message from the Lord: we who are alive and still around at the Lord’s coming definitely won’t go ahead of those who have died. 16 This is because the Lord himself will come down from heaven with the signal of a shout by the head angel and a blast on God’s trumpet. First, those who are dead in Christ will rise. 17 Then, we who are living and still around will be taken up together with them in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air. That way we will always be with the Lord. 18 So encourage each other with these words.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 29th of September 2021 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man whose favorite Angels include Michael, Clarence, and David Boreanaz, he is Christoper Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man whose favorite Angels include Wally Joyner, Mike Trout, and Shohei Ohtani- I am Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.