Tony E Dillon-Hansen
Sermon based upon Ephesians 6: 10-20, Psalm 84 and 1 Thessalonians 5:8
This text from Ephesians 6 tells us about putting on the “armor of God.” In a world full of struggles and worries, we are told that we can put on divine protection like a holy suit. This scripture encourages us to use our imaginations to wear the protection of God around us like the “armor of God…fasten the belt of truth” and put on a breastplate of righteousness…” “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit.”
We read something similar to this in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 “put on a breastplate of faith and love; ..helmet of salvation”.
I am reminded of times in my youth when we would dress in costumes. There is some fun in this text. So let God guide us.
October 31 does not need to be the only time we can have fun with costumes and hats. As mentioned last Sunday, this feels like an opportunity to feel God in our unique ways. As someone who loves to wear different hats, let me show you some of them!
Still we have to wonder if this text is just for us to have fun or are they reminding us of something else.
There are a few points to raise here. 1) Dress with God!
We know that what we wear is a part of out identity - revealing to people some measure of who we are. You might see a sports fan, cowboy, rivalry, colorfulness and yes even goofy. So yes there is also that perception of us - whether fair or not. When others wear something that expresses themselves - do we look upon it with welcome or with judgment?
The question then for us - if we put on an outfit of God, what does that look like, what does it feel like? How would it change us? For me, I imagine that I feel comfort of a nice blanket on a cold night or flow of cooling fabric in heat - especially on a bike. If we put on clothes of love and faith, I bet that would that lift and fill our spirits too.
2) This really is saying instead - feel God around you. It’s not just outfits.
We know there are many things in this world that are just not right, chaotic, and feel broken. With hats, you could draw the hat lower to hide your eyes from the world, but when we do that, we lose perspective. God is right there for us to keep perspective.
We know that God is love. Thus, if God is love, wearing God’s armor is not necessarily metal plates of armor but “breastplate [made] of faith and love.” We are asked to wear God’s love. Remember from earlier in Ephesians to put away malice and bitterness and “live in love.” Put away those stressing things, make the most of time (aka “carpe diem”) and turn towards the love of God. Be kind to people and wear that love as your favorite outfit.
3) The next point to raise with this image of us putting on God like clothing also begs the question is why would we ever take it off - that we are reminded to feel God around us or we leave God somewhere instead of letting God be with us.
Paul is reassuring churches (then and now) that we are not just people who meet once a week, but that we meet to feel God’s presence in Church and to take the presence with us into our whole lives.
When we go home after worship, do we just leave God at the church - all packed up neatly and waiting for next Sunday… or do we bring God home with us? Wear this holy clothing with you into life and community.
I have seen this so many times when people pray good prayers and sing good hymns in church and then as soon as they step out the door, its like instant forgetfulness.
That isn’t to say be boastful and prideful. (Matthew 6 tells us, those that do, they will have their reward.)
4) God wants us to share this gift and for us to recognize that others also have this gift. Wearing that love of God and feeling the love around us like a blanket can do so much for us - but so much for others.
Loving God and loving neighbor takes practice and effort. It is why Jesus says this is a struggle, but a struggle with so much reward.
We want to show up for church. Be filled with the Spirit and wear that love into our community. When you do, when you fill yourself with that love and let love embrace you, then the world is a much different place, less scary, less toxic, less arguing because we have made room for grace and the love of God. We transform into something bigger than us because we allow ourselves to feel God.
Let God be in us and with us. See the blessed in and around messy, broken me and you see the blessed in and around messy, broken you. Amazingly with God’s help, we together achieve so many things with the different ways we feel and wear God’s love.
Feel the amazing in you and around you.
So how do you dress up with God? how do you feel the love of God?
Thanks Be to God.