Angel Encounters Mini Series: Part 3. A Divine Encounter: the Right People in the Right Place at the Right Time

Angel encounters: another person, who just happens to be nice? God? Or an angel?

Philip meeting the Ethiopian Eunuch, as told in the Book of Acts in the New Testament

In the Bible the identity of angels is often confused with/ blurred with God.

“Was it God or an angel?” is often a question you have in your mind after a biblical encounter. Examples are the story where Jacob wrestled with a stranger; the story of 3 visitors to whom Abraham offered hospitality; and the angels who came and tended to Jesus in the wilderness after he’d resisted the 3 temptations.

Then there’s the story of Philip meeting the Ethiopian Eunuch.

This is an example of an encounter we might relate to.

For both people in the encounter, the moment was right. They were the right people in the right place at the right time.

When the student was ready, the teacher appeared

When the lesson was over, the teacher mysteriously disappeared.

At the end of the encounter, “the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away. And the Eunuch did not see him again but went on his way rejoicing.”

Here the bible makes no attempt to say that the stranger the Eunuch met was anything other than a human being. Not God, not an angel, but a person. But for the Eunuch you might say Philip occupied the same role as an angel, in many similar encounters people might experience, religious or non-religious, in the past, or right up to the present day.

I think all the modern day angel encounters I describe in this series are and will be ones where the people experiencing the encounter went on their way rejoicing. The same happened in the story of the road to Emmaus. In that story the stranger turned out to be the resurrected Jesus.

Many of these encounters are powerful in direct proportion to their brevity.

What makes them special, even divine, is the element of grace.

Human beings tend to need a motivation to do things, and they tend to expect something for it: some kind of reward. Gratitude, a response, some kind of material or emotional or psychological payback for the action.

God-incidences and divine or supernatural or angelic encounters are characterised by grace. They just happen. The stranger offering the help requires nothing. If the recipient of their help offers thanks, that is somehow a separate issue. They appear and disappear.

God can use a choice word, a routine appointment, or a brief conversation to change a life

(Lectio 365 Wed 1st  July 2020).

In this series I describe a number of occasions where somebody today, in our contemporary world,  believed they experienced a supernatural event, an angelic encounter, or a God-incident…. And in every case they went on their way rejoicing.

I’ve written about angels and supernatural experiences before on this blog. Check out these posts:

Angels and Supernatural Experiences

The Brightest Heaven of Invention

and the first two posts in this Angel Encounters series:

Part 1

Part 2

Also you may like to visit some of the following bloggers to learn more of what different people believe about modern angel encounters:

http://www.thepsychicwell.com/spirituality/connecting-with-angels-spirit-guides/modern-day-angels-and-miracles/

http://www.crystalwind.ca/angelic-paths/the-angelic-realm/calling-all-angels/angels-and-spiritual-life-things-you-need-to-know

https://www.beliefnet.com/inspiration/7-modern-miracles-that-science-cant-explain.aspx

Next time I’ll continue this series with some stories I have been told of modern angel encounters.

What do you think?

Do you believe in angels?

Have you an experience to share? Please share in the comments below.

The Fatal Flaw in Human Nature, Castles in the Air, and Dreams and Visions

My recent visit to an English Heritage castle, Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire, stirred up some reflections on life.20170501_124937-1

A visit to a medieval castle cannot help remind you that this great pile represents in stone the major themes in human nature: war, power, wealth, moral and economic hierarchies, social injustice and religion.

Of course what we choose to focus on when we visit a castle is conditioned by the story we attach to it; and when I visit my nearest EH castle at Kenilworth my mind is usually full of the intriguing romance between Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester, because that’s the angle English Heritage love to take.

However at Goodrich Castle, several different images whirled around my mind: a chapel in a gatehouse with arrow slits in it, murder holes, double portcullis, double gates, two drawbridges, luxury accommodation and all the contemporary mod cons for the aristocratic family and their friends, and the reminder that the 200 servants would have just dossed down anywhere they could find that was as warm and comfortable as possible.20170501_112727

I found myself thinking about three things:

First, social justice.

We’re very conscious of it now in our society, only because our eyes have been opened to it; perceptions have changed. To modern Christian eyes social justice has always been at the heart of the gospel. But has it? For many centuries the most dedicated Christians were oblivious to it. So has it always been there, and they were just wilfully blind? Or is it only there because we’ve formed a political agenda for it?

Second, religion and violence.

They were pious Christians with rich Chapels and they had all the arrangements in place to hurl boiling oil on people and shoot arrows at them through slits in the walls of their chapel even as they were worshipping. But can we ever judge those who lived in a different age by our own values and standards in very different times? Many who oppose the Christian faith now cite its history as evidence that it is sheer folly. To what extent can we judge the truth of a system of thought/ a religion/philosophy/worldview by its human history?

Third, human nature.

In church recently someone said to me, “He who expects nothing is never disappointed. My view is that human nature is fatally flawed. But that doesn’t mean I don’t think there could be some improvement.” This reminded me that the teachings of Jesus go against human nature. You cannot actually follow through the logical implications of Jesus’ teaching without battling human nature.

What is human nature anyway? With the benefit of hindsight we see the behaviour of medieval castle inhabitants as folly, and it all seems very black and white to us. Future generations looking back will see and think exactly the same about our behaviour now, in 2017, down in our very own microcosm.

Many of our own “dreams” are foolish, vain things – “wishful thinking, ” “pipe dreams”, “castles in the air”. They are not worthy of being fulfilled and are not designed to be fulfilled, but are destined to dissipate in the desert air.

All we can do is take little steps forward according to what seems right, or helpful, or appropriate to us at the time.

We always have to see our “dreams” in this context, of failed, fatally flawed, human nature. And to realise that we’re down here in the microcosm and can only see through a glass darkly, notwithstanding all our little dreams and visions.