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“…two men suddenly stood at their elbow, dressed in dazzling light.”

While the women puzzled about the absence of the body, this startling thing happened. Suddenly.

Dressed in brilliance, two men are with them in the tomb.

Now, this is the Bible, and we shouldn’t be surprised that angels show up.

Yet, when they do, it is still a startle.

However, in this story, translated by this scholar JB Phillips, a particular detail is included that, for me, eclipses the appearance of gleaming beings. It’s where they appeared. They “stood at their elbow.” Now that captures my imagination and curiosity!

Other translations record the beings’ position as “stood beside them” or simply “stood by them.” Yet Phillips uses the specificity of “at their elbow.” He is clearly telling us something important about how divine beings, messengers, holy ones engage with us, especially during times of bewilderment, grief, loss, and tragedy. They come and stand beside. Right close, at the bend in our arm.

Elbow angels. Elbow messengers.

I remember walking on an icy, uneven patch of a walkway with some companions. Beside me walked an older strong person in our group who, after some steps along this unsteady way, took hold of my arm, cupping my elbow as we walked. This was not an act of chauvinism but a genuine gesture of care for my well-being, to help me should I slip or fall. A strong grip that anchored and secured as we walked together, as she moved along beside me, holding my elbow.

Each translation of this story indicates that the divine dazzlers suddenly appeared beside them. Not in front, above, or behind. Beside them. At their elbow. With.

Yes, angels are all around us. But today, on this tenth day, spend some time reflecting on those who dwell right at your arm’s bend—there at your side.

The Holy One is with us. The Holy One is beside us and sends gleaming messengers, especially in times of uncertainty, fear, and threat. Right there at our elbows.

Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for your guiding angels who stand beside me in my bewilderment. May their brilliant presence calm my fears and bring me closer to the new life you hold for me. Amen. Alleluia.

Photo: Angels Declare that Christ is Risen. William Brassey Hole, 1905

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