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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Tea Break in the Archangels' Restroom

pause in advent

It was tea break in the archangels’ rest room and it’s no use you telling me that archangels don’t have tea breaks and they don’t have rest rooms.  This is my story and I’m telling you that it was tea break in the archangels’ rest room.  

As always Raphael was there first.  It wasn’t that Raphael was work shy and knocked off first; rather it was that Raphael was the caring sort and he liked to get the kettle on ready for the others to come.  That way he could listen to their problems as they came, soothe their brows and generally do what he was best at - healing.

There was a loud rustling of wings in the corridor, the door was flung open wide and there was Michael.  One glance was enough to tell Raphael that Michael wasn’t having a good day.  Michael had very few very good days.  He was in charge of the winged squadrons and some of those cherubs were enough to try the most patient angel’s patience and no-one could call Michael the most patient angel.  Hot tea with an extra sugar and one of those nice chocolate biscuits wrapped in silver paper was Raphael’s prescription. 

Michael flopped into one of the best armchairs, hugged the cuppa like his life depended on it, gave a deep sigh and closed his eyes.  “Heaven preserve me from cherubs.”  Raphael made suitably sympathetic noises and they settled into a companionable silence.    Nothing needed to be said and they could just contemplate the infinite, which they were quite good at, as you might guess.

After a while Michael asked where Gabriel was and Raphael said that he hadn’t poured his tea as he’d heard that Big G had sent Gabriel on a job and you just never knew how long Big G’s jobs would take.  Michael nodded and once again silence fell on the rest room as they just enjoyed each other’s company – well wouldn’t you enjoy the company of angels? 

And then Gabriel arrived.  He looked so pale that the other two didn’t speak.  Raphael pressed into his hands a cup of strong tea which somehow smelled a bit spiritual, if you get my drift.  He took a huge gulp and then he spoke.  “You’ll never guess what Big G has had me doing today.”  The other two didn’t even try as they knew from long experience that second guessing Big G was beyond anyone, even an archangel.

“He’s only sent me down to earth to tell a slip of a girl called Mary that she’s going to be the mother of his son.  She’s only fifteen.  She lives in first century Palestine.  And she really hasn’t a clue.”

Michael spoke first.  “Is she married?  First century Palestine – that’s occupied by the Romans isn’t it?  And is that creep Herod still on the throne?”

Raphael wasn’t far behind with his questions.  “There won’t be a proper hospital.  And if it’s her first she won’t know how to look after it.  And she won’t have anywhere to live.  Poor little thing.”

Gabriel answered as briefly as he could.  Not married.  Palestine. Roman occupied.  Herod is still the puppet king.  Her first kid.

Michael was the first to recover.  “Not again.  You know what Big G is like.  He dishes out the decrees but leaves us to sort out the details.  You remember when he wanted do part the Red Sea but left it to us to organise the fish tanks or we’d have had a lot of extinct fish that day.  Or sorting the supper for those lions as a thank you for not eating Daniel.  Well, this will give those cherubs something to do at last.  Should put some backbone in them.  I’ll get the winged squadrons in.  Kick the Romans out of Palestine.  Find a better king for Jerusalem.

Raphael had been thinking as well.  “We’d better build a very quick twenty first century hospital.  And organise parent craft classes.  And I’ll get a few cherubs to volunteer to clean a new house for her and set up the best nursery ever.”

By this time Gabriel was beginning to look a bit better.  Not good mind, but better.  “Don’t worry about the unmarried bit.  I’ll leave it for a week or two and then go and see this old man called Joseph and tell him to marry the girl.   He’s a bit old for her but I suppose he’ll take good care of her.  Better that than a toy boy, anyway.  And maybe I should get the kid’s name down for Eton whilst I’m at it”

And so the three archangels started to plan how to improve on Big G’s plan. 

But just then the golden telephone rang.  Gabriel was the nearest so he picked it up.  Immediately he was alert and very respectful.  “Oh yes, your Almightiness.  Yes, sir.  We were just talking.  . . .  Oh, you heard us.  Of course you did.  And we made plans.  Oh you made plans too.  And your plans weren’t like ours.  You want us to . . . . what?  You’re sure.  Well if you’re absolutely sure, sir.  Well, yes sir, you know best.  Thank you, sir.”

He turned to the other two.  “That was Big G.  He says we’re to forget organising a coup to get rid of the Romans and replace Herod.  We’re to withdraw the planning application for the hospital and stand down the cherubs from spring cleaning.  He says that his son is to be just as vulnerable as the poorest of them.  To have parents as inadequate as most of them are.  To be born among the poorest and to grow up among the commonest of them.  In fact he’s going to know suffering and grief like them.  That way, no matter what those humans go through they’ll know that God understands and is right there beside them.”


  1. Thanks for this one- can I use it at church, please?

    1. Pleasure - I first used it years ago at Braunstone, near you

  2. What a wonderful take on the story.

  3. Absolutely wonderful, so well thought out and really touching. You've set the bar really high for next week, cant wait to come back.

  4. You wrote this, yes? It brought tears to my eyes and chills. Amazing! Absolutely! I'm so happy upon reading it too.

  5. Big smiles all round, wonderful post.

  6. I think I could use that in a service too, if you wouldn't mind, please? Wonderful ideas in there xx

  7. I've enjoyed reading everyone's "Pauses" and if this is any use in worship I would be very happy. It's an idea I had from years ago and I posted it with a degree of trepidation so it's good to know you have found it useful.

  8. I enjoyed it as well.
    Blessings Gail

  9. Oh Mary! What a wonderful post for this second day in Advent! Absolutely delightful!

  10. I absolutely love this!!! So creative!x

  11. Oh bless you for the inadequate parents! Thank you for a rueful smile and little tear!

  12. I remember this now, such a wonderful post.

  13. Thanks, Mama, This is one of eight meditations in the book.