Several years ago, I was getting ready to perform a wedding ceremony and the mother of the bride came out to speak with me about last minute arrangements for the outdoor ceremony. The sky was very overcast, there was obviously rain out to the west, the wind was picking up and the temperature was dropping. The bride’s mom seemed anxious; and yet everything was as ready as it could be. I had arrived early, gone over the last minute details with the staff of the club that was hosting the event, checked the sound, tested the microphones and made sure the unity candle was ready to go.
I asked why she was so stressed, with everything ready to go, and she responded that she was concerned about how her daughter was reacting to the changing weather. After all, every bride wants everything to be perfect, and I am here to tell you that rarely happens. Human events have human problems; and we all have to learn to deal with them. But this mother, and her daughter, just couldn’t deal with the possibility that the wedding may have to be moved indoors. If I do say so myself, the bride was a little demanding, and so was her mother.
Finally, mom went in one last time to check on her daughter, and came back to promptly announce that I had to do something about the weather, because, speaking of her daughter, “her little wings are down.” I know that I did a double take, and asked her to repeat herself. Sure enough, she said it again, “her little wings are down.” I told her that I had never heard of that phrase before and you would have thought, from the way that she looked at me, that I was from a different planet. But I swear, I never heard that saying before that day – and to be sure, I haven’t heard it since, either.
I kind of chuckled to myself, as the bride’s mother went into a long, convoluted explanation of what it meant. According to her, the bride was an angel; and angels are supposed to have their wings up. And of course, due to the weather, her wings were not up – they were down! This brought up some intriguing thoughts. After all, I studied angels and demons in seminary – it was one of my favorite classes – and we learned all about seraphim and cherubim; and how many wings each had and all sorts of other details.
For example, seraphim and cherubim are the two most talked about types of angels. Seraphim have six wings; two to cover their faces, two to cover their feet and two to fly. They are constantly praising God, singing such things as, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord, the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” And cherubim have four wings and they are the type of angel that grace the cover of the Ark of the Covenant; the gold covered wooden box that symbolized God’s dwelling among His people. It is said that the cherubim are on either side of the mercy seat of God, and every year, the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to place a blood sacrifice there to atone for the sins of the people.
But in all my studies, I never learned about how angels held their wings – either up or down. We do know, however, that the sound of angels’ wings was like the thundering of horses and chariots rushing into battle. And there are many places in the Scripture where God tells David, for example, to listen for the sounds in the tops of the trees before going into battle. Could David have been listening for the sound of angels?
But I can see where a mother would want to refer to her daughter as an angel – how many times have we all heard that? And I have to admit that I understood what she meant when she said her daughter’s “wings were down.” In fact, I relayed the story to Janet and the kids; and every once in a while, somebody in our family will say their “little wings are down.” We all now know what that means. To be honest, Kristin says it more than anybody. To be sure, it is the kind of thing that Kristin would say. She has always had a flair for the dramatic.
My research showed that angels have their wings in different positions depending on what they are doing. Nothing surprising here, but our family, and quite possibly yours, has a new phrase to use when you are feeling a little down. In honor of all angels, the verse for tonight is from Ezekiel 1:23-24, “Under the expanse their wings were stretched out one toward the other, and each had two wings covering its body. When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. When they stood still, they lowered their wings.” So, in fairness to all, angels keep their wings up – and down.
My encouragement tonight is to let you know that God created angels to worship Him, to protect us and to provide a host of other ministries throughout all eternity. And one of their greatest missions is to escort believers to heaven. Pretty neat, don’t you think? My prayer is that you will keep your wings up, as we serve an awesome God. But, in the event that your little wings are down, please let me know. I’ve become pretty good at lifting wings…..