Here is Rita’s message:
Morning everyone, thanks for joining me today in this week of Michaelmas. Historically, Michaelmas has always been one of the four quarter days of the financial year, where in British and Irish tradition, these were the four dates in each year on which servants were hired, school terms started, and rents were due. The dates fell on four religious festivals roughly three months apart and close to the two solstices and two equinoxes. Yesterday then, was the Feast of St Michael and all angels, also known as the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael. Michael is an Archangel in Judaism and Islam, and in Christian tradition, in Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican liturgies, he is known as St Michael the Archangel.
In the Old Testament, Michael is mentioned 3 times in the book of Daniel. Michael came to be recognised in Jewish liturgy in spite of laws against praying to angels as intermediaries between God and His people. In the New Testament, Michael appears in the Book of Revelation, leading God's army out to defeat Satan during the war in heaven. And the Epistle of Jude also mentions the Archangel Michael. By the 4th century, sanctuaries to St Michael began to appear where he was seen as a protector.
In 1962 I remember visiting Coventry Cathedral, rebuilt after severe bombing in WW2, where the great sculpture by Jacob Epstein of St Michael's victory over the devil, greets every visitor at the door. The wonderful West Window is known as the Screen of Saints and Angels; sadly the glass pane engraving of St Michael - the angel with the eternal gospel - was destroyed during a burglary in 2020. The cathedral puts a strong emphasis both on Bible teaching and its International Centre for Reconciliation whose work exists locally, but also internationally, working with terrorists and dictators.
So in our prayers today may we think about reconciliation, remembering, as in Psalm 32 that there is joy in forgiveness and blessing.
Keep safe, my friends, as we face together this return of Covid 19.