Homily: Malcolm Spencer, August 26 2012
Put on the Armour of God
Military images abound in the scriptures and that was not strange because their time especially the time of Paul were the days of the greatest expansion of the Roman Empire, soldiers would be seen often in the streets. Paul as you know used his Roman Citizenship appeal for Justice from the Emperor. So we read in Ephesians this reference to the armour of God. The source of this is from Isaiah 59:16-18 where God puts on the armour of integrity and vengeance to struggle against evil in the world.
Paul goes through the Roman soldiers outfit to illustrate that Christians also should be clad with spiritual clothes - the belt of truth, honesty always challenges those who would deny the truth and often distort it for their own ends. We are asked to always look to the truth we find in faith. His coat of mail was integrity closely related to honesty it means being whole, living life as true to yourself as you can be. Your shoes the gospel of peace – walking in peace, living in peace finding resolution of conflict not stirring the pot for more conflict and he talked about the shield of faith.
These are spiritual gifts for us to face living in military times or peaceful times – it is to give us strength to know who we are, to move beyond simple understandings of life and naivety to a strong faith in Christ that prepares us for what comes next and difficulties and joys we find.
This is our new nature that we accept and life into and we are strengthened and prepared more through prayer. As was Paul when he was arrested and living in Rome yet maintaining his prayerful hope as he faced the mobs around Nero who finally took his life.
He firmly believed that the issues we face often are cosmic ones, behind them great power – we in our time know the power of the press, the internet and corporate which is greater than we can sometimes understand and we know ideology can enslave a people and create great suffering in the world yet we have the ability to see through this and know that we have a loving God who came in Jesus to assure us that all these powers do not have the last word. The first word of creation is love and that is the last word.
But Christian life can be difficult in the many distractions of our busy city and so we need a bit of courage and an ability to hang in there and seeking the things we need today to follow Jesus. Even Roman soldiers had to learn the art of their uniform as do the high suits of soldiers today - it takes persistence and a willingness to as a community be a witness in our community of our hope. We see beyond our food bank to a community where more equal sharing is a right of everyone, we see beyond our Community dinner to the hope that all people can afford to entertain and enjoy a life in community. We see beyond our often small numbers to the heart of our community we pray and we are inclusive and we are very much with our community as we struggle with issues of environment, employment and health.
We choose to stay with Jesus
Again we have a gospel lesson that gets to the heart of our relationship with Jesus and again Jesus suggests this amazing intimacy with him and as such the possibility for an intimacy with God. This is what someone called the nutshell of the incarnation. Jesus was one with God and we are one with Jesus. Some of the disciples were shocked and often so are we because we were raised to think that God was there and we are here and those who think there are in a cozy relationship with God probably needed a counselor or therapist. They found talking about eating the flesh of Christ and drinking his blood just too much. This was the language of the mystery cults which drank the blood of the sacred bull to partake in the power it bestowed. It partakes of this mysterious idea of closeness with holy power. Christians from the beginning sat with Christ and hear Jesus speak of this. It was his way of talking about this intimacy.
In most of our intimate relationships we eat together we often share things together often borrowing from each other, we get bound up with one another. Jesus saw this in his relationship with God.
Simone Weil, French Jew and convert to Christianity, philosopher, and cultural critic and resistance fighter dies in the United States in 1943. She believed that contemplation, silent communion with the holy was the greatest joy any one of us could have. She had many things happen to her life but it changed when she visited Assisi and experienced the place when Francis had had his life changed and his spirituality broadened and widened.
She left France soon after the country fell to the Nazis and came to New York. Her mystical and philosophical thoughts were largely published after she died. She understood this relationship Jesus talked about.
The Church seems to remember it is a mystical union with Christ at times and then turns around and acts like human institution. But there are those that call it back to a life graphed in Christ and soon we know that we like Peter need to say Lord to whom shall we go? Your words are words of eternal life.
To God we are all like Prince Harry bare before God but he like us need to suit up spirituality and find ourselves this loving relationship with our saviour that will make us whole and ready to serve him.
Let us pray
Loving God you have given us signs of a great love, help us to open our hearts to you and keep us ever in your love as we return our love to you. In Jesus Name we Pray Amen