If you’ve visited Mont-Saint-Michel, in France, you will have enjoyed seeing one of Europe’s most wonderful sights. The mount is steep and a long walk through the narrow streets is rewarded by being able to visit the Abbey at the top and the view out to sea. The Mount is in a bay which is shared by Normandy and Brittany.
A church building name (dedication) usually draws attention to the life of Christians who were exemplary in terms of being followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the case of the Abbey the name refers to the Archangel Michael while the feast of St Michael and All Angels falls on 29th September. This explains why autumn term at Oxford and Cambridge universities use the name ‘Michaelmas’.
What value does this have for us? It is a time to give thanks for the many ways in which God watches over us with loving care. Archangel Michael is awesome and powerful. As a heaven-sent messenger he only appears rarely on highly important business. The name Michael means “who is like God?” He visited Daniel in Babylon to make him aware of the spiritual nature of the battle ahead, but also of the divine resources to sustain him: “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. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 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” (12:1-3). This foreshadows Michael leading the heavenly armies against those of the great dragon at the end of this age (Revelation 12v7).
The great knowledge and power of Michael reminds us that although we humans are the greatest of God’s creation, we are still not the tops. We live under the just rule of our Creator. We can flourish and yet also make spectacular failures. We are responsible to God for the way we conduct our lives whether we use our gifts for wise or wicked ends. Amazingly the Lord God chooses to fulfil His purposes through His willing servants, whom He helps and defends. We may face trouble and even tribulations, but the Lord helps His people. So, ‘who is like the LORD?’ He stands uniquely as the Almighty one.
Do come and join us to find out more this autumn.
Editor’s Note – Alternative Mounts related to St Michael are also available 🙂