The Society celebrated Michaelmas with services at St Saviour’s Glen Osmond in Adelaide and at St Peters Eastern Hill in Melbourne.
‘Angels exist. It says so on my T-Shirt’.
And so began Phillip Tolliday’s sermon at the Michaelmas service at St Saviour’s Church, Glen Osmond, Adelaide on 24 September, in anticipation of the Feast of St Michael and All Angels on 29 September.
Parish Priest at St Saviour’s David McDougall presided at the service.
According to Phillip Tolliday, the ‘angels and T-shirt’ proclamation was made by a grinning John Roffey from the photo on the front page of the Anglican Supporter magazine published in December 2001, which ‘kicked off’ the Christmas Campaign for Anglicare that year.
Philip described John Roffey as, ‘a biblical scholar of no mean capacity with an expertise in the Old Testament; possessed of a trained and incisive psychological acumen; and an astute observer of cultural mores’.
Thus, ‘as clever and cute as this sentiment undoubtedly was—Angels exist. It says so on my T-Shirt—we may be sure that it was also one deeply informed by tradition and scholarship’.
Phillip went on to demonstrate a firm awareness of the presence and ministry of angels to humans, sourcing examples from Genesis to the book of Revelation through to the present day.
A Sung Eucharist was celebrated at St Peters Eastern Hill Melbourne, at which Colin Griffiths presided and Bishop Paul White preached.
In his sermon, Bishop White also turned his attention to angels and how they have been traditionally recognised in Christian faith and theology saying, ‘there is no doubt that the Biblical writers believed in a higher order of beings whom they called angels and who are well described in Hebrews 1:14 as ministering spirits sent forth to serve’.
He places St Michael in the Christian calendar in the Eastern Church in the 4th century, spreading to western Christianity by the 5th century.
‘Because of St Michael’s traditional position as leader of the heavenly armies, veneration of all angels was eventually incorporated into his feast.’
Bishop White went on to give examples of the many and trivial uses made of angels in modern culture, saying ‘such trivialisation does not negate truth’.
‘May we all have such help from ministering spirits sent forth to serve; help from angels and archangels; and all the company of heaven . . . ‘
As is Michaelmas tradition, both services were followed by lunch.
The late Rev’d Dr John Roffey was formerly lecturer in Old Testament and Principal of St. Barnabas’ College, before becoming the CEO of Anglicare-SA, a position he held until his death in late 2001.
The Right Rev’d Paul White is a retired bishop from the Diocese of Melbourne, who knew the Society well when he was in Canberra, and was taught New Testament studies by Father Tom Brown.