Wed., Aug. 22, 2012 – Every three years the lectionary, or cycle of Scripture readings, comes around to Ephesians 6:10-20 on the last Sunday in August. The heading of this section in many Bibles is, “The Whole Armor of God,” for Paul, or whoever wrote the Letter to the Ephesians, talks about “putting on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
…Stand, therefore, [he writes] 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.”
It sounds so heavy here at the end of summer! Not to mention hot and stifling if you have the image of medieval armor in mind. I’m looking for something a little lighter, a little more gentle, as I reluctantly let go of summer and turn September’s calendar page over. Having just spent all last week away for my Certificate in Positive Psychology course, I’m still catching up on stacks of mail and e-mails.
But “Paul” is right to give us this pep talk. After all, what a luxury it is to have vacation at all, when I think of all those who live everyday hand to mouth, juggling several jobs, never seeming to be able to make ends meet. How grateful I am for this time of rest and renewal! How grateful I am to have work that is meaningful and (mostly!) enjoyable to get back to!
And then there’s the “armor” Paul is urging us to put on–truth and righteousness (or right relationship with God), readiness to preach the gospel of peace, faith, salvation (being “saved” from aimlessness and separation from God), and the Spirit. What a gift to be able to “put on” these things, to be offered these things to accompany us on the journey. And then there’s that first sentence in this whole section, that’s not to be forgotten–”Finally, [or firstly], be strong in the Lord and in the strength of God’s power.” It’s not our effort or power–it’s God’s working through us.
So, don’t just “put on” but “open up to…,” “empty out to…” the power and strength of God. “I can do all things through the One who loves us.” Off we go!