Friday, August 23, 2013

Workin' them angels...overtime

At the end of day, at Small Compline, Orthodox say a prayer to their guardian angel:

O Holy Angel, attendant of my wretched soul and of mine afflicted life, forsake me not, a sinner, neither depart from me for mine incontinence.  Give no place to the evil demon to subdue me with the oppression of this mortal body; but take me by my wretched and outstretched hand, and lead me in the way of salvation. Yea, O holy Angel of God, the guardian and protector of my hapless soul and body, forgive me all things whatsoever wherewith I have troubled thee, all the days of my life, and since I have sinned this day.  Shelter in this present night and keep me from every affront of the enemy lest I anger God by any sin; and intercede with the Lord in my behalf, that He might strengthen me in the fear of Him, and make me a worthy servant of His goodness.  Amen. (From the HTM prayerbook)
What a task this must be for our guardian angels, whom our Lord has appointed " to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone." (Psalm 90: 11-12)  As we are always in sin and in danger, our angels were appointed, even created possibly, to safeguard man, the jewel of God's creation.  

It is important to pray this prayer often. For we need to ask forgiveness of the angels just as we would ask forgiveness of anyone who is entrusted to protect us, whom we may have offended.  But they keep working just as our parents and guardians do.  We need to be reminded that the plan of salvation is not just some "personal relationship" between you and God.  Others are involved from the Church, the saints and, particularly, the angels. Our prayers for them to intercede on our behalf demonstrate the communal nature of our salvation which Christ has granted to us.

The other day, I was listening to Rush's album, Snakes and Arrows, from 2007. Rush is an all time favorite of mine and it was really cool to see them in concert two weeks ago, thanks to a gift from my lovely wife.  One song from this album, which they did not play is entitled, "Workin' them Angels."  The lyrics of the chorus are:

All my life
I've been workin' them angels overtime
Riding and driving and living
So close to the edge
Workin' them angels - Overtime

Now, Rush is not a Christian band.  The drummer, Neil "the Professor" Peart is an avowed secular humanist.  Geddy Lee, the frontman, bass guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist, etc. is a son of Jewish Holocaust survivors and, from what I've read, the Jewish faith is heritage, not a practiced faith.  Alex Lifeson, the guitarist, was originally named Aleksandar Živojinović and was born in Canada to Serbian immigrants.  Lifeson is the English translation of Živojinović. I don't know if he is practicing Serbian Orthodox or not.  Whatever their religious proclivities may be, that's not the point. The point I am trying to make is that truth is truth regardless where it originates. 

Those in the church growth movement insist that we need to find new, hip, relevant ways to draw the young to church. I am not, for a second, advocating that Rush music be used to celebrate the Liturgy like the Episcopalians and Lutherans have been using U2 and the Beetles (ugh!).  But teaching the faith using cultural examples as this can be a good start, but should not be an end. The words of this chorus do not even begin to substitute for the prayer reprinted above. 

Nonetheless, when I heard this song as I was driving into work, it reminded me of that prayer to the Guardian Angel.  I'm always in need of his defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ and his intercessions.  I'm always working him because I have given him no reprieve to stop as I keep in my sinful ways.  I do work him...overtime.

1 comment:

  1. Truth is truth is truth; I love that in some Orthodox churches in Greece, ancient Greek philosophers are sometimes depicted in murals as God seekers because they were truth-seekers...