Tearing his costume off!

costumeIt’s that time of year again… Halloween… with all the “Harvest Festivals” and “Trunk or Treat” alternatives.

But as Christians we have such a diversity of “views” regarding Satan, the Adversary, the Devil.

For some, there’s a casual nonchalance… like, “well, you know, life goes on and I don’t know how any of this religious stuff works so… whatever.” For others there’s a nearly unhealthy terror and fascination about darkness stuff, almost like the constant making of gestures to ward off the “evil eye” of the Enemy, lurking in every dark corner.

This Halloween, I just want to put something out there with which you are welcome to agree or disagree, embrace or cast away as you feel led…

If we accept that the scriptures of the Holy Bible are true, then we accept that “intelligent others” exist… including both angels and demons. We are told that Lucifer exists. We understand that creatures of darkness, demons, roam the world and seek our harm. All right then. That is a simple statement of fact, one fact of life, not to be focused upon to the exclusion of all else. In fact, a great deal of the impact of the Incarnation and coming of Jesus’ Kingdom has to do with His having freed us from that dominion and domination.

Nonetheless, we “deal with the devil” every day in some form or another. He seeks to rob us of our joy, our peace, our focus on love, light, and truth. THAT is his primary purpose. Not simply to “get us to do bad stuff of darkness”, but rather to “stop us from focus on light and good”.

I once had a pastor phone me and ask, “Is it necessary to name a demon in order to cast it out? Do you have to know its name?”

My immediate answer, thinking he was involved in some ministry of major occult deliverance, was, “Um, no. In fact, you seldom know the name, unless they reveal it. In general, we know the names of very few demons, and the studies needed to acquire that knowledge are not ones I recommend to anyone unless called to that type of ministry very specifically. Why do you ask? What is the need?”

And he went on, clarifying… He did not mean specific entity name, he meant things like,  lust, or greed, or covetousness, and so on.

Ah, I got it. Well, the answer, in my experience, was pretty much the same. When temptation is consistent and methodical, and a spirit is oppressing one’s soul, the real “power and authority” for its dismissal is that of Christ, of love, of light, and the power of the Cross. One releases one’s hold on the temptation, rebukes the darkness itself, and grasps Jesus instead. Often, one may not even recognize what the darkness was, until it is gone and light fills that part of the heart. There may simply be the sense of something being “off”… or the recognition that one’s heart and attitude is far from that of Christ within. Then, back away from that shadow, release it, rebuke it, and intentionally turn towards light, love, and Christ. When one is under the influence of the shadow itself, the discernment can be fuddled, and recognition impossible.

We deal with such mundane interactions with shadow all the time. We take them in stride.

But we seldom recognize them as “suits” or “costumes” worn by the Enemy, Satan, the Adversary, the Devil.

If we did, at least many of us, would run off screaming in terror. (Please note: the enemy certainly DOES do some more “dramatic manifestations”, especially when doors are opened through occult or arcane practices. Recommendation? Don’t do those things.)

But this Halloween I just wanted to take a moment and recognize that the pitchfork, horns, and pointy tail costume of the “scary Devil” is far less common than his ordinary business suit, flowered frock, or jeans and T-Shirt. We’re perfectly willing to recognize the Enemy in the dramatic, but far less likely to grant him the credit he deserves in the mundane. Even though it’s still well and truly him and his who are at work.

Here’s the Apostle Paul with some timely teaching to the Galatians…

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. [Galatians 5:13-26]

That’s not a bad list of “Devil Suits”. And we see them all the time, don’t we? In our homes, our communities, even our churches? Paul gives the antidote, even before naming the toxins…

Love your neighbor as yourself, and SERVE one another in that love. (Bear in mind, the Lord’s clarification of “who is my neighbor”.) Don’t freak out. Don’t get focused and fascinated. Just love, serve, and trust Jesus in both His authority and His love.

Let’s defrock the devil, and send him home!

Grace to you, Gentle Readers!

 

Angel’s Journal, Entry Four: “Utter Shock!”

Journal Entry:

Finally, bleakly, a bit tremulously, I take up quill to install another episode in this journal. I hope one day, someone puts these events together into some sort of document for the humans. It’s all just so extraordinary, it would be a shame to lose it all with one generation.

Anyway…

“Yesterday”, so to speak, I could not even attempt to get my thoughts down. Even now, they will just come in patches as I sort this all out.

But after settling down in The Temple to teach after His entry, The Master and His disciples did some preparation for the Passover Supper they would celebrate together. Again, a couple of the messenger angels here got to forewarn some of what The Master would need… a room, utensils, food and such. (There was much excitement and just the teeniest bit of jostling, as angelloi crowded the assignment desk pointing out excellent reasons that THEY were the perfect one to deliver a given instruction. Nothing discordant, mind… just a bit… er… enthusiastic. Yeah, that’s the right word… “enthusiastic”.)

So, most of us settled back a bit relaxed, thinking all was well. After all, we’ve watched for years as The Master gathers friends for dinner and parties. He heals, He teaches, He relaxes, He enjoys. It was so strange. Some of the higher ups just became ever more tense as the time approached, where most of us (myself, certainly) thought things were going well.

The meal certainly went well… as John (the youngest) entoned the traditional words, “What makes this night different from all other nights?” and His Majesty was praised for His unflagging faithfulness and love for His children. But then The Master got up, stripped down as if to fish, and washed His disciples’ feet. He spoke so incredibly of being servant to one another, and servanthood. Brought tears to the eyes of many of us angels, as we are PURELY servants, and we love our role. But never have we heard it so exalted, nor realized how fully The Master is the Ultimate Servant. We did not know we could love Him more than we always have, but indeed we do. He taught all of the disciples to become servants, and so to teach others. And then… He renamed them “friends”, no longer “disciples”. It was quite beautiful.

Then, when supper was ended, all became still and quiet when The Master took the bread and named it His flesh, and the cup of wine and named it His blood, saying they were to consume these as He was giving these over for them. That they ever were to do this in remembrance of Him.

The Host began to hum as He spoke, and ended with a choral “Amen” as He exited for the Garden.

We all saw His tragic exchange with Judas Iscariot, and poor Jemireh (Iscariot’s guardian angel) broke down in tears as The Master gave his charge the sop, and Judas dashed out to the echoes of “what you must do, do quickly.” We all tried to comfort him, knowing Judas’ choices were his own and this had ever been foreseen. But poor Jemireh yet grieved the choices his charge had made, and questioned if he could have done more to bring Judas into the light rather than the darkness. None of this was helped by the taunts of the Dark One who had captured Judas’ heart with his ambitions and fears.

But when the party moved to the Garden of Gethsemane, everything felt faster and tighter.

Oh, one odd thing at the supper… just before they went out to walk, The Master asked if they had a sword. Michael’s head shot up as if dashed with water. All his cohort began to ready their armor and weapons, thinking they’d be mobilized within moments. When they found a sword there, The Master said to take it. Never before had He commanded them to be armed. It was very odd, but He explained nothing, so we just waited.

It wasn’t very long before we saw His need… but I cannot write more of this now. It’s all yet too fresh, and all this has seemingly drained me.

More in a little bit…

Journal Entry by — Makarion Nous, Angel 3rd Class, General Duties

Angel’s Journal, Entry Three: “Flurries of Excitement”

Journal Entry:

Things are moving so quickly now around The Master that it’s hard to keep up or sense the direction of events. I noted my own optimism at the greetings given when He entered Jerusalem, and how heart-warming it was to see Him given the acclaim He truly deserves.

On the other hand, it seems always “the other sandal to drop” (as humans say), when some religious critics complained about the furor, and bid The Master to quiet the tumult and praise. (These whiners plot together behind their closed doors, inspired, fueled and fanned by the whisperings of the Dark Ones appealing to their fear and ambition, counseling them to kill this “dangerous radical” (Pfft! As… if…) lest The Master rouse the people and draw down the ire of the Romans to disturb their comfortable power base.)

But The Master would not be dissuaded from letting events unfold as they would. He created a mad flurry of excited activity here when He said. “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” O my goodness! What a scramble up here, as all the regional and geological caretaking angels for that region instantly drew forth references on “speech” and “vocal biology and technology”, and flashed off to find the guardian angel who cared for the prophet Balaam, and the one who looked after his mount, and the angel who confronted them on the road. I had to shake my head at all the instant research going on for “Atypical Vocal Manifestations in Revelation of God’s Nature or Will”, all in the “twinkling of an eye” (as humans say), as we all revert to “celestial time” for purely internal matters (like research).

It all turned out to be a false alarm, as the crowds and disciples did NOT cease to praise Him, and He extended no invitation or permission for Creation Itself to declare the Truth it knows. A bit of a letdown, I must admit… that is a moment we all look forward to with GREAT anticipation. But still, I know He knows what He’s doing…

The OTHER great flurry of excitement was when He rode straight up to the Temple, climbed the great stairs there with throng in tow, and opened all the cages and pens of the “blemishless” sacrificial animals (such chaos that was!) and overturned the tables and accounts of all the animal sellers and the money changers. You’ve never heard such shouting, bleating, squealing, all combined with merchants trying to stifle their urge to curse (they were, after all, in the courtyard of the Temple), and shouting indignantly.

We angels had seen Him do this before, of course, three “years” ago when The Master began what we called “His Wanderings” after coming up out of the Water with John. But that time He had fewer followers in His wake, and had woven a flagellus of cords with which to drive His targets forth. THIS time, He needed no such weaponry, as the crowd trailing along seemed like an army. None had left His train as He rode up to the Temple, expecting to see quite a “show”. (In which expectation they were not disappointed.)

All of us, however, could feel The Master’s waves of grief as He strode, resolute, and cleared out the space from which He chose to teach throughout this week. It’s not “mind reading” to see what The Master reflects on when His grief is so profound and He speaks words aloud.

His heart was breaking as He revered this place, this House built by Solomon for the Shekinah to dwell among His people… and saw it degrade into a tawdry merchant market to milk the piety of the people for their esteem and their money. Jerusalem “slayer of the prophets”, and centre of religious hypocrisy.

Throughout the shouting, cursing, and chaos of driving out the temple merchants, Archangel Michael and his honor guard had stood tensely at the ready. No thoroughbred racehorse in their starting gate ever trembled with suppressed speed and rage to begin, as did those angels in that moment.

But… no word came… no trumpet rang… no bell or shot.

The temple cleared, the conspirators hated, plotted, and retired behind closed doors, the Dark Ones grinned even more broadly leering at us, and The Master simply sat down to watch people come make their offerings…

As we all settled back to continue watching events unfold…

*Sigh*… More later. Things seem to have settled down, but we shall wait and see.

Journal Entry by — Makarion Nous, Angel 3rd Class, General Duties