Worship Start Time: 10:30am
Theme: Summer Church
It's summertime in Calgary! Come to Scarboro as we worship together every Sunday at 10:30am. We will have the coffee on at 10, so come early and catch up with your community. Throughout the summer we are offering opportunities to incorporate the arts into your worship experience. Come and see what we are up to this week! There will be more time for coffee, tea and conversation after the service in the Memorial Hall.
The children's theme this summer is "Exploring Spirituality through Science & Play" - so come and explore at Scarboro!
REMINDER: Next week is PRIDE - we will be marching with our friends at the Affirming Network, carrying the Scarboro banner proudly. If you would like to join in, please chat with Sharon Woodhouse this Sunday. There may even be some room on the float if you have mobility concerns. (Walkers and riders should be in place no later than 10:45am on Sunday, Sep 2. Come at 9am to help decorate!)
August 26, 2018 - Message: Ephesians 6.10-20
Rev. Erin Klassen
What we have here today is a passage with some really strong imagery. In fact, it is really hard not picture a person, a soldier, clad in all the armour named - belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes to be ready, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).
I alternate between really loving this particular passage and wanting to just toss it out the window.
I originally learned it as a song at summer camp, and like so many of those, it is incredibly catchy and really sticks with you:
I've got my feet shod
With the preparation of peace
Got my sword of the Spirit
My shield of faith
Got my breastplate of righteousness
Helmet of salvation
I put on my armor
And I'm ready for the battle
Ready for the battle!
And there’s the real catch for me, that battle imagery. It is hard for me to stomach. It directly contradicts with my Mennonite heritage, and my peace loving heart.
And, as we well know, it is all to often that the sword of the Spirit, which this passage tells us is the word of God, is used as a weapon.
There’s this scene from the movie Saved! that is one of my most favourite of all time.
A teenager named Mary, becomes pregnant. She attends a Christian high school and is struggling, her minister asks her friends to reach out to her. They do this by attempting a kidnapping and exorcism. When she is justifiably angry about the whole thing, they begin to argue, urging her to “turn away from Satan” and accept the love of Jesus. She replies that they don’t know what love is, one of them throws a Bible at her, yelling “I am filled with Christ’s love!”.
Mary picks up the Bible and says, with frustration and anger and disappointment, “this is not a weapon.”
But there are times when it has been used that way.
To justify racism and slavery, abuse and residential schools,
To cause harm to those making incredibly tough decisions around their relationships and bodies, with divorce or abortion,
To deny the personhood of our LGBTQ+ loved ones,
To help those in power consolidate and strengthen their position.
It is a shameful part of our story, and in the United Church of Canada, we want to declare that it is most definitely not our style.
We want to say: “I’m a Christian, but I’m not that kind of Christian”
The problem is that using the Bible as a weapon is not Christian in the least.
Because what it has been and is being used to justify is exactly what this passage is fighting against.
Our struggles 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.
As foreign as language of evil is to our ears, this does sound somewhat familiar...
As we struggle in our own time with evils that rob people of justice and dignity, we realize that Paul’s time is similar to our own. And Paul is reminding us that being faithful to God can (and should) sometimes put us at odds with the world in which we live.
When this letter was written, Roman soldier were patrolling the streets. Christianity was a fringe movement, considered radical and subversive. And it was. Possibly still is.
This passage proves it. In it, Paul uses the imagery of a Roman soldier, and turns it on its head.
We picture physical, visible, armour. But the armour of which we speak, is all invisible. These are not things, but virtues, moral beliefs and behaviour:
The belt of truth,
The breastplate of justice,
Shoes of zeal or “whatever will make you ready” to proclaim peace,
The shield of faith,
And helmet of salvation.
I find it interesting that we are not told to go find these things, but to put them on as if they are already in our possession. We already have all of this. This is our inheritance as children of God, our promise as disciples of Christ. It is also a reminder that our faith is something that we need to take on everyday, like armour or clothing, we chose to put it on to face the world every morning.
More interesting, if this were actual armour, it would be the world’s worst. It is all defensive in nature. It is all meant for protection and the instructions that come with it are to resist and stand firm, and to pray.
The spiritual garments of the faithful, what we are to put on, as those who call ourselves Beloved of God, and Followers of Jesus, are meant to hold us secure in our faith, not to threaten or overpower someone else. More than that, the Roman shield that is brought to mind here, it was huge. Big enough to cover yourself and approximately one third of your neighbour. So when our faith is lacking, if we have lost it somewhere in our daily battle, our neighbours, those around us have enough to cover us while we get ourselves sorted.
The only weapon amongst our armour is the sword of Spirit, which we are told is the word of God, and it is meant in defense. You know what else, is called the word of God? Jesus, the one who came into our world as Love Incarnate. Love, our first and last line of defense is love.
What do you need to steel yourself against?
What is the armour that you are putting on?