Friday, August 21, 2015

Christian Testament Text for Sunday 23 August 2015

Ephesians 6:10-20   Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.

Reflection Sitting with a group of folks who come together every Thursday afternoon to ask questions of meaning and value, this week a woman asked, “How are we to live, to be, in the presence of all the disasters and chaos in our world today?  From brutal politics to starving children, dying whales to worldwide economic unrest, poisoned water to no water at all, I just don’t know …” She was visibly frustrated, distressed, at a loss. 

“Take up the whole armor of God so that you may be able to withstand that evil day…. to stand firm.” That is Paul’s wise counsel to our ancestors and to us. But, it raises another question. “What is the armor of God?” I believe the armor of God is faith, which means, finding our strength in God, rather than in our selves. When we put our faith in God’s ability to overcome the impossible, to transform even death to life, we have the courage to speak truth to power, we receive the grace to stand for what is right and are able to behave accordingly. When we put our faith in God rather than our selves, our ordinary behavior in our ordinary communities is rooted in the promise of faith, not fear because, God is faithful.

Faith is our shield. Faith renders us “able to quench all the arrows of the evil one.” The politicians and secular moguls, the media and mass marketers of our geopolitical world use fear in their efforts to capture their markets and sure up their power.  Every day we are bombarded with threats of earthquakes, terrorist plots and rampant disease. Images of shootings, massacres, economic and natural disasters indoctrinate us with a sense of impending doom, fear. When we react with fear to these messages it means we believe them, we believe they are real and consequently they have power over us. The truth is, fear mongering is the work of evil undoing our faith because the opposite of faith is fear. In faith we look beyond the realm of appearances to the something more that we call God, by whom and with whom and in whom we live in the light of faith rather than the darkness of fear.

Twenty-five times the counsel “do not be afraid” appears in the Bible. I believe this acknowledges the temptation to fear is omnipresent, therefore we must constantly make the choice to “put on the whole armor of God,” putting our faith in God ’s faithfulness rather than ourselves regardless of all that conspires in our geopolitical world to indoctrinate us with fear. 

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