Teaching Children about Angels – A Christian Science Perspective

Angels – Thoughts from God

We learn in Christian Science that no matter what the “individualism” of angels appears to be — such as when they seem to take the form of men in Bible stories — angels are mental concepts, or thoughts from God. We are taught to listen for angel messages that come to us during our prayers, in times of need, or simply throughout our normal day. These angels can rescue us from impending trouble if we have kept our minds in a receptive state and free from willful or cluttered thinking. Angels seem to appear whenever we have expressed a deep desire for God’s assistance. Would you ignore an urgent plea for help from one of your children? Neither would God.

My favorite description of angels comes from a short piece titled “Angels,” written by
Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of Christian Science:

“When angels visit us, we do not hear the rustle of wings, nor feel the feathery touch of the breast of a dove; but we know their presence by the love they create in our hearts. Oh, may you feel this touch, — it is not the clasping of hands, nor a loved person present; it is more than this: it is a spiritual idea that lights your path! The Psalmist saith: ‘He shall give His angels charge over thee.’ God gives you His spiritual ideas, and in turn, they give you daily supplies. Never ask for tomorrow: it is enough that divine Love is an ever-present help; and if you wait, never doubting, you will have all you need every moment.What a glorious inheritance is given to us through the understanding of omnipresent Love! More we cannot ask: more we do not want: more we cannot have. This sweet assurance is the “Peace, be still” to all human fears, to suffering of every sort.”
(Miscellaneous Writings 306)

To assist those who are teaching children, I have pulled together a number of descriptive phrases found in the writings of Mrs. Eddy, to summarize what is taught in Christian Science about the nature of angels. Following that, is a selection of many of the citations in full, so that you can see the phrases in their proper context.  A listing of Bible stories you might use in teaching your children or Sunday School class can be reached on another page via the link below:

ANGELS ARE:

Spiritual intuitions . . . guardians in the gloom . . . celestial visitants . . . pure thoughts from God . . . exalted thoughts . . . God’s representatives . . . upward-soaring beings . . . spiritual guides . . . nameless, incorporeal impartations of divine Love . . . holy thoughts winged with Love . . . true ideas of God . . . God’s divine messages . . . swift-winged thoughts . . . God’s thoughts passing to man . . . spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect . . . inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality . . . messengers of pure and holy thoughts . . . natures allied to God’s nature.

WHAT ANGELS DO:

Come in the quiet of meekness . . . fly on spiritual pinions . . . point upward . . . guide to divine Principle . . . tarry with us . . . whisper . . . abound in the spiritual atmosphere of Mind . . . are assigned different offices . . . deliver us from the depths . . . counteract all evil, sensuality, and mortality . . . create love in our heart . . . take charge over us . . .administer grace, do our errands, and are our dearest allies.

CITATIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF MARY BAKER EDDY:

“Angels are not etherealized human beings, evolving animal qualities in their wings; but they are celestial visitants, flying on spiritual, not material, pinions. Angels are pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love, no matter what their individualism may be. Human conjecture confers upon angels its own forms of thought, marked with superstitious outlines, making them human creatures with suggestive feathers; but this is only fancy. It has behind it no more reality than has
the sculptor’s thought when he carves his ‘Statue of Liberty,’ which embodies his conception of an unseen quality or condition, but which has no physical antecedent reality save in the artist’s own observation and ‘chambers of imagery.’

“My angels are exalted thoughts, appearing at the door of some sepulchre, in which human belief has buried its fondest earthly hopes. With white fingers they point upward to a new and glorified trust, to higher ideals of life and its joys. Angels are God’s representatives. These upward-soaring beings never lead towards self, sin, or materiality, but guide to the divine Principle of all good, whither every real individuality, image, or likeness of God, gathers. By giving earnest heed to these
spiritual guides they tarry with us, and we entertain ‘angels unawares.'”  (Science and Health 298)

“ANGELS. God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality.” (S&H  581)

“The footsteps of thought, rising above material standpoints, are slow, and portend a long night to the traveller; but the angels of His presence — the spiritual intuitions that tell us when ‘the night is far spent, the day is at hand’ — are our guardians in the gloom.” (S&H 174)

“Earth has little light or joy for mortals before Life is spiritually learned. Every agony of mortal error helps error to destroy error, and so aids the apprehension of immortal Truth. This is the new birth going on hourly, by which men may entertain angels, the true ideas of God, the spiritual sense of being.” (S&H 548)

“And how is man, seen through the lens of Spirit, enlarged, and how counterpoised his origin from dust, and how he presses to his original, never severed from Spirit! O ye who leap disdainfully from this rock of ages, return and plant thy steps in Christ, Truth, “the stone which the builders rejected”! Then will angels administer grace, do thy errands, and be thy dearest allies.”  (Miscellany 129)

“The Soul-inspired patriarchs heard the voice of Truth, and talked with God as consciously as man talks with man.  Jacob was alone, wrestling with error, — struggling with a mortal sense of life, substance, and intelligence as existent in matter with its false pleasures and pains, — when an angel, a message from Truth and Love, appeared to him and smote the sinew, or strength, of his error, till he saw its unreality; and Truth, being thereby understood, gave him spiritual strength in this Peniel of divine Science. Then said the spiritual evangel: ‘Let me go, for the day breaketh;’ that is, the light of Truth and Love dawns upon thee. But the patriarch, perceiving his error and his need of help, did not loosen his hold upon this glorious light until his nature was transformed. When Jacob was asked, ‘What is thy name?’ he straightway answered; and then his name was changed to Israel, for ‘as a prince’ had he prevailed and had ‘power with God and with men.’ Then Jacob questioned his deliverer, ‘Tell me, I pray thee, thy name;’ but this appellation was withheld, for the messenger was not a corporeal being, but a nameless, incorporeal impartation of divine Love to man, which, to use the word of the Psalmist, restored his Soul, — gave him the spiritual sense of being and rebuked his material sense.” (S&H 308)

“Spirit is symbolized by strength, presence, and power, and also by holy thoughts, winged with Love. These angels of His presence, which have the holiest charge, abound in the spiritual atmosphere of Mind, and consequently reproduce their own characteristics. Their individual forms we know not, but we do know that their natures are allied to God’s nature; and spiritual blessings, thus typified, are the externalized, yet subjective, states of faith and spiritual understanding.” (S&H 512)

“The Old Testament assigns to the angels, God’s divine messages, different offices. Michael’s characteristic is spiritual strength. He leads the hosts of heaven against the power of sin, Satan, and fights the holy wars. Gabriel has the more quiet task of imparting a sense of the ever-presence of ministering Love. These angels deliver us from the depths. Truth and Love come nearer in the hour of woe, when strong faith or spiritual strength wrestles and prevails through the understanding of God. The Gabriel of His presence has no contests. (S&H 566)

BIBLE STORIES FEATURING ANGELS:

If you are teaching the Bible to your children or to a Sunday School class, there are
numerous Bible stories which illustrate the nature and mission of angels, as God’s
messengers. Point out that angels appear in times of great need, or to bring special
messages from God. There are times that the Bible characters do not believe in the
angels who have come to them, or they fail to see them or be receptive to them. This
seems to result in episodes of punishment or obstruction. Discuss with your pupils
how they might respond in similar situations, or ask what might have happened if the
people disobeyed or ignored the angels. How might history have been changed?
Also, go over the citations above from the writings of Mrs. Eddy, and ask how they
might be applied to the particular Bible story you are working with. The following
are most, but not all, of the “angel sightings” in the Bible:

GENESIS 16:  The first mention of an angel in the Bible is in the story about Hagar,
fleeing from Sarai, Abraham’s wife. An angel appeared to Hagar in the wilderness
and told her to “return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.” The angel
also announced that Hagar was going to bear a son, and would be the mother of
multitudes. He even told her to name her son Ishmael. This angel brought both
protection to Hagar, as well as an important message.

GENESIS 19: This is the story of Lot and the angels that warned him to leave his
wicked city immediately. When Lot lingered, the angels “laid hold upon his hand,
and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters . . . and they
brought him forth, and set him without the city.” There, they gave Lot further
instructions not to look behind at the city, and to escape to the mountains. Show
your pupils what happened to Lot’s wife when she disobeyed the angels’ orders.

GENESIS 21: This tells of the time Hagar was cast out of the home of Abraham
along with her son, and they were alone in the wilderness. God “heard the voice
of the lad,” and sent an angel to speak with Hagar, again reminding her that God
would make a “great nation” from her son. Suddenly, Hagar became aware of a well
of water.

GENESIS 22: The story of Abraham and the time he felt God had instructed him
to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar. An angel came to Abraham in time to stop
him from killing his son, and bringing a message from God which approved of
Abraham’s loyalty to God.

GENESIS 28: This describes the night Jacob beheld in his dream the angels of
God ascending and descending on a ladder up to heaven. Later, in Genesis 32, Jacob
is met by a host of angels as he journeys home to try and reunite with his brother
Esau.

EXODUS 3: An angel appears to Moses “in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.”

NUMBERS 22: This is a great story to tell young Sunday School pupils. It is the
tale of “Balaam’s Ass.” The ass was able to see an angel standing in the road,
blocking the way. After Balaam punishes the ass, the animal is given the power to
speak! Balaam was then able to see the angel “standing in the way, and his sword
drawn in his hand.” There are many lessons to be found in this story that young
children will love to discuss.

JUDGES 13: An angel appears to the soon-to-be parents of Samson, to announce
Samson’s birth, and to give instructions on how he is to be raised as a Nazarite.

I KINGS: An angel appears to Elijah after he fled from the vengeful Jezibel. The
angel provides food, water, and words of encouragement.

DANIEL 3: Nebuchadnezzar believes an angel, who appears like the form of “the
Son of God,” has delivered the three young Hebrews from the fiery furnace.

DANIEL 6: God sends an angel to rescue Daniel from the lion’s den.

MATTHEW 1and MARK 1: An angel appears to Joseph to announce the
conception of Jesus, telling Joseph to marry Mary and to name her son, Jesus.
Joseph listened and obeyed.

MATTHEW 2: An angel appears to Joseph in a dream, telling him to take Jesus
and Mary into Egypt to escape the wrath of Herod. Joseph listened and obeyed.
And when an angel told Joseph it was safe to return, Joseph listened and obeyed.

MATTHEW 4: Angels ministered unto Jesus after his temptations in the wilderness.

MATTHEW 28: An angel appears at the sepulchre where Jesus was buried. The
angel rolls away the stone and sits upon it. He speaks with the two Marys who have
come, giving them instruction to go tell the disciples that Jesus is risen. They listen
and obey.

LUKE 1: The angel Gabriel appears to Zacharias to tell him his prayers for a son
have been answered. He will have a son and his name will be John. Because
Zacharias expressed doubt in the possibility of this happening, as both he and his
wife were very old, Zacharias is punished — he is unable to speak, until John is born.

LUKE 1: Gabriel visits Mary to announce that she will be the mother of Jesus.

LUKE 2: An angel visits the shepherds to tell them the “good tidings of great joy,”
the birth of the Saviour. The angel tells them how to find Jesus. Then a great
multitude of angels appears, praising God.

JOHN 20: In another version of the story of the resurrection, Mary stoops down
and looks into the sepulchre and sees two angels in white. They speak with her briefly
until Jesus appears.

ACTS 5: An angel opens the prison doors for Peter and the other apostles.

ACTS 10: An angel comes to Cornelius in a vision, telling him to contact Peter.
He gives directions on exactly how to find him, and tells him to do whatever Peter
tells him. He listens and obeys.

ACTS 12: Peter is once again rescued by an angel, who first has to wake him up,
then releases the chains holding Peter. He instructs Peter to dress. Peter follows the
angel obediently, not even sure if he is dreaming or not, and they pass through the
rooms and go out by an iron gate which “opened to them of his own accord.” Then
the angel departs.

ACTS 27: An angel appears to Paul during a storm at sea, and tells him not to fear,
because he and all that were on the boat would be saved, and Paul would be brought
before Caesar.

In summary, angels may come to us as “intuition,” or as a voice speaking to us —
sometimes loudly, sometimes in a whisper. Angels may seem appear to us as people. Or animals. Angels may perform so-called miracles or heroic deeds on our behalf. They may protect us from harm, or offer encouragement when we are discouraged.  We may experience the feeling that we, ourselves, are the very angels of God, expressing or manifesting His spiritual qualities in our individual daily lives.  But no matter what angels appear to be, or what they do for us, Christian Science teaches that they originate with our Father-Mother God, the one supreme divine Mind.

Angels are God’s thoughts!

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