On the Ground
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:2 (NRSV)
The other day a colleague was walking by our building and saw me at the back of the sanctuary. He ducked his head in to say hi and commented on the beauty of the place.
I never know what to say when people compliment this space that I had no hand in creating and which is familiar enough now that I hardly notice it.
“Yeah,” I offered and let him take it in.
After a few minutes, he motioned to a spot at the front of the sanctuary. “What are those two carvings?”
I told him they were angels holding song books.
“That’s interesting,” he said. “Usually you see angels up high in a church. But yours are down on the ground. Do they have bodies?”
“I think they’re just torsos,” I told him, “heads, wings, and arms.”
Before he left, he offered a prayer. It began “God, we thank you that your messengers are on the ground. The messengers are on the ground…”
When he had gone, I took a closer look at the angels – two figures that I see often enough to completely ignore them. I studied them with renewed interest. I had been wrong.
They had bodies: robes that reached to the floor and maybe even the suggestion of toes peeking out underneath. Like they could have just been walking by, and ducked their heads in, and decided to stay.
Like they could just step down at any minute and join the stream of neighbors passing by all day. Could be any one of them at all.
God, we thank you that your messengers are on the ground.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.