Nature requires five,
Custom gives seven,
Laziness takes nine
And Michaelmas eleven
This old rhyme popped to mind when I started brainstorming our family's celebration of St. Michael and All Angels Day. I don't know much about this history of this poem, but I DO know that today is a traditional day for sleeping in, probably because I'd do just about anything for a full night of uninterrupted sleep!
Historically known as Michaelmas (as Christ+Mass= Christmas, so Michael+Mass=Michaelmas), St. Michael and All Angels Day used to be far more widely celebrated, but the traditions of this day are carried on, probably with few connecting it to this celebration of the church.
Michaelmas is the traditional kick off to fall, and is still name of the fall quarter at Oxford and other British schools. Even our U.S. Supreme Court begins a new term on the first Monday of October, originally in the tradition of Michaelmas. Some TV shows start a new season this week too. Funny how our traditions are often based around the celebrations of the church - and yet somehow our knowledge of this connection has been lost.
A beautiful time of year; there is a newness about the fall, even in the midst of all of the browning foliage. But then, as Christians we know that only through death comes life. Yes, fall is a most beautiful time of year, and I am always glad to see it come again. "Yes, but you live in Florida, where it's always summer!" you say? Not so! "Season" is nearly upon us, a time of perfect, low humidity weather that brings busy streets and restaurants. It's the time of year when we live up to the title "Paradise Coast".
Celebrating more than just the return of cool weather and fall's fresh start, today we thank God for His mighty warrior, Michael the Archangel, as well as the multitude of unnamed angels, all part of His creation. Funny thing about angels, they seem to be more popular than their Creator. From cartoons to cream cheese commercials, there is a lot of confusion about these heavenly beings. Maybe this is because the Bible doesn't give us all of the details we'd like to know about angels, so we just sort of creatively fill in the blanks.
Children, able to blissfully live in that world of make believe and fairies, are anxious to hear about something so mystic, and yet so real. Here are a few facts to keep in mind when talking to your children about angels:
Angels are not…
holy beings created by God. Angels see and know God in a way that we cannot, although they do not know all things.
gods or humans. People do not become angels in heaven. We do not worship or pray to angels.
in God’s service, acting according to His will and for our benefit. (Hebrews 1)
above God. They were created to serve.
messengers of God’s good news and can move with great speed. Angels took part in sharing the message of Christ from conception and birth to resurrection and ascension! (Luke 1-2, Matt 28)
omnipresent; only God is at all places at once. There are a vast number of angels to serve God everywhere.
powerful protectors, especially of children. (Psalm 91:11-12, Matthew 18:10)
all good. The Devil and his evil angels tempt us to sin and work hard to keep us from belief in God
warriors against the devil and evil angels, enforcing God’s victory over sin and death by Christ’s death and resurrection. (Revelations 12:7)
serenely sitting on clouds, eating marshmallows! They do pray and praise God, but defend Him too.
named and ranked. Michael is the archangel who led the battle in the book of Revelations. Gabriel was the angel who got to tell Mary she was going to be Jesus’ mother.
part of a family. They don’t have children because God made all the angels He needs and angels never die.
We began our celebration by reading and talking about the scripture readings for the day, one at breakfast (Psalm 91 ), and two at dinner (Rev. 12:7-12, Matt. 18: 1-11).
In our window we displayed a spare card that we'd mailed to our shut-in friends earlier in the week. We made these by drawing then cutting an angel shape out of a compressed sponge. Note that the wings are shaped like a folded heart.
Running water over a compressed sponge and watching it "come to life" never gets old! Compressed sponges are great for accurate cutting.
Next, we stamped silver angels on the top half of lilac cardstock (cut to 5.5'x8.5').
Once dry, I added a few gold embellishments, reinforcing the nimbus and sash. Meanwhile, Adelae sponged all over a couple sheets of tracing paper with more silver paint. We cut these into folded heart shapes, small and large, and encased the large heart with the small heart to make each floaty wing.
Underneath each angel I jotted the closing line from both Luther's Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, "Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen". On the back we included a list of the day's readings.
I think it would be fun to cut some of these little angels out an fly them over the table or over the children's beds, so maybe I'll save them for next year.
We will never have snow in South Florida, and sadly, that means my kids will never get to make snow angels. Today however, we made the kind that won't melt, but will wash away, chalk angels. We had to do this first thing in the morning before it got too hot to lay on the pavers. Quickly we made up a batch of chalk paint (one part cornstarch to one part water) with my own special St. Michael's Day twist: gold glitter! We needed about one cup of "paint" - or 1/2 c water, 1/2 c cornstarch per angel, and found that it works best to stir the starch into the water. It might be clumpy at first, but just keep stirring until it's smooth.
I had the kids lay down on the driveway and I outlined their body with a stick of white chalk, their arms and legs extended as if they were making a snow angel. Adelae even traced me!
We painted the inside of our angel's white robes with the cornstarch sparkle paint.
While painting, I had a good opportunity to talk more with the children about these heavenly beings. We talked about how they are not people, and people will never become angels. Angels are not boys or girls. Angels were there to announce Jesus' birth, and Jesus' resurrection. With my prompting, "The angel said," Adelae completed her memory verse from last spring, "for His has risen as He said!" (Matt 28:6)
As the paint dries they become a brighter white! Use yellow chalk to embellish the nimbus and add a sash. If you make a mistake or drip outside the lines, just rub the area with a little clean water! Grace!
The traditional food for St. Michael's Day is Goose. No, I don't think they sell goose at Publix, not that I looked very hard! They do carry blackberries, also a favorite of this day. What could be better than Angel Food Cherub Cakes topped with blackberries? Now, I COULD have used my muscles and made the cake from scratch, but I'm not much of a baker, so a box mix was a better fit our busy day. Thank you, Betty! I don't even have (want, or need) an angel food cake pan, so we made little "Cherub Cakes" with the hope that the ribbing of cupcake liners would help the cake to rise.
Cupcakes are much cuter and better for sharing too; one box will make 30 cakes! Angel Food cake is such a great thing to make with kids because all you add to the box mix is water. They get the experience of measuring and you save the mess! Fill the cups a little more than 3/4 full, and remove them from the pan as soon as you get them out of the oven, otherwise the crispy dome will stick the the pan and they won't look as pretty. We followed the box directions, but found that lowering the recommended oven temperature from 375F to 350F produced better results. Watch them carefully so they don't get over baked!
To make the blackberry topping, we defrosted our berries in a large bowl, then added a squeeze of lemon juice and just a little it of sugar, maybe 1/4c or less, "just to bring out the juices" as Grandma "Dee" always says! A couple good smooshes with a fork, and voila, blackberry topping!
Let the Cherub Cakes cool completely so the wrappers remove cleanly. The cakes looked and smelled so yummy as they were baking that Adelae and I couldn't help but take a little sample with our lunch!
Speaking of lunch... We had happy last minute idea for celebrating St. Michael and All Angels Day.
Angel Wing Soup!
Yesterday I happened to have made a big batch of chicken (not goose!) stock. If you don't make your own stock, please do! It is so easy, thrifty-smart and delicious too! After you THINK your rotisserie chicken is all gone, look it over and pull off any last little bits of chicken. Stick the chicken (bones, skin, everything) into your largest pot and cover with water. Throw in whatever veg and seasonings you have on hand. I like to quarter an onion, a few cloves of garlic, halve some celery and carrots, and throw it all in the pot. If you keep the pieces large they will be easy to skim out later. Simmer until it starts to smell like soup, and then let it go for a few hours more. Sieve out all of the veggies, skin, bones, and "yucky stuff" you don't want to eat.
I froze half of my stock for later use, and made the rest into soup last night. Making your own soup means you know what's in it, and you can make it just how your family likes it! I sliced up the carrots and threw them back in the pot, along with few more carrots, salt and pepper to taste, and the rest of the leftover chicken. Actually, I added a lot more carrots because both of the kids love them so! Pete likes to feed himself soft carrot, but sometimes I like to put the little bits inside of his Cheerios so he can pick them up easily.
So, I had this wonderful soup to serve for lunch today, but it had no noodles - and that's when it hit me! We cooked up some farfalle pasta to add "angel wings" on top of our soup. I think it was a hit! Yes, she asked if she could do this, and I'm glad she did so I could sneak the picture!
After Daddy got home, and after every dinner plate was cleaned and cleared, and after all of our evening Bible readings were discussed, at last, my little sweetie the sweets lover, finally got her Cherub Cake and Blackberries! We removed the wrapper from our cakes and let them drink up that sweet-tart juice. Of course, as Adelae squeezed the cake to take a big bite the juice dribbled down her chin, down her shirt and shorts! Who could be mad? What a wonderful mess! Next time, all children will receive their cakes trifle style!
God has given us so much to celebrate! Thank you, Lord, for caring for us through your angels who fight, protect, praise and proclaim your name. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son,
that you have graciously kept me this day; and
I pray that you would forgive me all of my sins where I have done wrong,
and graciously keep me this night.
For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things.
Let your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen
(Luther's Evening Prayer)