The nature of an interaction may be ambiguous:
"Whether in superstition or in metaphor, Cerialis replied, surprisingly quietly, 'That will depend on the goddess, won't it?'"
-Poul Anderson, "Star of the Sea" IN Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), pp. 467-640 AT p. 609.
Or theistic language may continue to be used when there is no longer any belief in it:
"A man had to take whatever the gods offered him, and they were a miserly lot."
-Poul Anderson, "Brave To Be A King" IN Time Patrol, pp. 55-112 AT p. 74 -
- especially when, as in this case, the individual is operating in an appropriate milieu.
Treating strangers as if they are gods or angels in disguise is good policy. Polytheism appeals to my imagination though not to my intellect. It would be good if invoking Neptune or St Nicholas before embarking on a sea voyage made a difference - but we can continue to appreciate the stories and imagery in any case. Presumably no one repeating the story of St Christopher believes that it is literally true?