Here is my manuscript and a recording of my sermon from Sunday, September 3. The text was Ephesians 6:10-20.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This passage is a great one for a preacher to describe how we must defend ourselves against the evils of the world and the Evil one. We must put on the whole armor of God. We must put on:
But I have to admit, spending three years of my life in a monument to war, my perspective on fighting has changed. In Gettysburg, there are monument plaques to all of the troops that fought there. They tell you where they were from, what they did during the battle. Then, the bottom line is given; number killed, number wounded, number missing.
My three years in Gettysburg has made me aware of the cost of fighting. While I am glad for the results of the Battle of Gettysburg, I’ve driven by and I’ve walked through the Gettysburg National Cemetery with its numbered gravestones too many times to hear any call to take up arms without wanting to know why, and who we are fighting.
So, why are we putting on this armor? Who are we fighting against? We are told in the opening lines of this passage.
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.
We are not actually going to be putting on armor and fighting against enemies of blood and flesh, but rather will be fighting against the wiles of the devil.
The wiles of the devil are those that defy God and God’s will. I think we can agree this is a foe worth fighting. But look at how they are identified.
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.
The opposition are rulers, authorities, cosmic powers of darkness, and the spiritual forces of evil. The adversaries against whom we are putting on armor are those who lead us away from God’s will and God’s love and into darkness and evil.
This isn’t an individual fight. This is a battle we are all engaged in. This isn’t a struggle for you to do right. This is a fight for us to reject being lead astray. This is a war against those who want to separate, and divide us, by making us unwilling to defend, fight for, care for, and love others.
Let me remind you why we are to put on the armor and prepare to fight. We are doing this so we are ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
The Gospel, or Good News, of peace, is living in lovingkindness – a mutual care of, and for, one another. It is loving your neighbor, and the stranger, as you love yourself. It is loving others with the love God has shown for us. It is the love of God shown through what we do, what we say, what we think, and how we act.
And the cosmic powers of this present darkness and the spiritual forces of evil call us away from that.
We are to put on our armor to fight the forces that draw us away from God and God’s will.
They appeal to our self-interest. If you give, you won’t be able to take care of you and yours. If you help, you won’t be able to do what you want. If you say yes, you’ll never be able to say no.
They feed to our fears. You know you’re not good enough to do this. You have your own problems. You don’t know enough to do this. You will fail. People will laugh at you.
They call to our concerns. If you help them, they won’t appreciate it. If you give, they will take advantage of you and your kindness. They got into that trouble on their own, they should get out of it on their own. They should have known better. They’ve never helped you. They have to do it on their own. They’ll just abuse and misuse whatever you give them.
The powers of darkness and forces of evil want to do one thing: make you see you and the one to whom you are called to reach out to be on two different levels. Because if you are not equal, then at least one of you is not worthy.
If you are above, they are not worthy of you, or your help. They are beneath you. They may drag you down to their level.
If you are below, then they don’t need you, or whatever you could offer. You are beneath them. Who do you think you are to presume you have anything of value?
The powers of darkness and forces of evil want to divide us. They want to divide however they can. If we are separated, then those are boundaries we have to reach across and social stratum we have to scale. But if we realize that we all have one identity that matters, that of beloved child of God, then other divisions are superficial. We can realize that the structures that hold others down or apart are the same ones that elevate and privilege many of us. Part of sharing the Gospel of peace and our lovingkindness is to dismantle the privilege and prejudices that keep us apart.
And for that fight, we will need the whole armor of God.
In a world that is screaming for mercy, may we be the ones willing to give of ourselves to begin healing, reconciliation and unity. Amen.
Pastor Brian's Page
Pastor Brian Robert Campbell has served at Our Savior's and Emmanuel since August 1, 2011, and began serving Nazareth on December 1, 2015.
Pastor Brian is originally from Saginaw, Michigan. He graduated from Alma College with a B.A. in Business Administration, and worked for the Saginaw Public Schools' Community Education Department for 17 years before answering the call to ministry. He graduated with a M. Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg in 2011. ONE in Christ Lutheran Parish is his first call.
He is the only child of Robert and Charlotte Campbell, both who have entered the Church Eternal.
He is accompanied in ministry by his faithful bulldogge Ananias, who regularly writes for our newsletter. His articles are archived here.
He is a fan of sports teams from his native Michigan, especially the Tigers and the Lions. But we tolerate him despite that.
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