And All the Company of Heaven

By Brian R. Marshall

Originally printed in the March - April 2005 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Marshall, Brian R."And All the Company of Heaven." Quest  93.2 (MARCH - APRIL 2005):49-50

It was a beautiful warm spring day in April 1975 when I first encountered angels. I was at a funeral at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The church was packed. The service was for a forty-nine year-old man whose sudden heart attack had left his wife a widow and his three children without a father.

I had been to funerals before. Most had been somber to one degree or another. This one was different. The family was singing its heart out; so was everyone else. There was a presence there that lent itself not to somberness but to joy.

The priest celebrated the Eucharist after his funeral homily. It was then that I saw the reason for the feelings in the church. At each end of the altar stood shimmering, bluish figures in the form of men nine to ten feet tall. Their hands were extended toward the eucharistic bread and wine in the hands of the priest. Father Branscomb's chanting of the liturgy had never been clearer.

After the service, we gathered for a luncheon in the parish hall. Father Branscomb sat beside me. I didn't tell him what I had seen until his conversation provided the opening. He said that in over twenty-five years of being a priest, he had never experienced such power and energy as he had that day. It was as if the heavenly hosts themselves were with him in the consecration of the elements of bread and wine. After all, the eucharistic liturgy clearly states that we celebrate our oneness "with angels, and archangels and all the company of heaven."

It was then that I spoke up. "Yes, Father, the heavenly hosts were with you. Yes, they assured the family of the deceased of the ongoingness of his life." Father Branscomb was quiet for a while. When he did respond, it was not with condescension or unbelief. He simply smiled and said, "Yes, angels . . . that explains it."

St. Paul admonishes us to treat strangers with kindness, lest we be "entertaining angels, unaware." On that spring morning in Alabama, I had the privilege of entertaining angels, quite aware!

Brian R. Marshall has been a member of the TS for over thirty-five years. He lives in Duluth, Minnesota. A retired United Methodist pastor, Brian spends his time writing, reading, walking, skiing and contemplating the beauties of Northern Minnesota and the grandeur of Theosophy

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