“Put on the whole armor of God.” – Ephesians 6:11
When I hear the word armor, I think of knights in shining same. Some images just get in the way. Shields defend us from swords, which can hardly be God’s preferred methodology. If it were, wars would be good, guns would be good, violence would be good. The powerful, the best-shielded and best-sworded, would win every war. That victory is precisely what Jesus claims is NOT going to happen. Instead, another victory, a victory of the weak and undefended, the weaponless, is on its way.
What then is our armor? It is our vulnerability. It is what “Geez” magazine (my favorite Canadian publication) calls, “. . . the spirit beneath the tradition, a spirit connected to everything. It emanates from the ancient saints of virtue and the volunteers in thrift store aisles. A trustworthy spirit exists in our midst. It will appear both futile and liberating. It will be both dissident and exemplary. It forgets to fret for hope.” (“Geez,” Winter 2014, Page 63)
Our armor is common and casual, like a grail, fretless, hopeful. Casual chic, we might call it, instead of heavy metal.
When I see the sworded sign, “Report suspicious activity,” or hear that the threat level today is orange, I hear encouragement for the wrong kind of armor. I even hear what my Palestinian friend calls an invitation to prejudice. When I hear these official scare tactics, I wonder what to do. Put on my shield? Watch out for people darker than I am? Instead I have decided to find the spirit under the spirit and encourage her to encourage me.
Spirit underneath, spirit grailing through our lives, help me get out of cumbersome costumes and into something lighter and more wearable. It’s winter and it’s already hard enough to get dressed. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Prayers for People Who Say They Can’t Pray.