“Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ…” – Romans 13:12-14
When the artist Seamus Moran visited the Tower of London, his attention was arrested by a disturbing sight: standing amid the rows of suits of armor for men and horses, a little metal outfit, maybe two and a half feet tall. A suit of armor made for a child. Probably it was made for ceremonial purposes, not for battle. But still: what sort of world so glorifies war and violence that it would dress a child in metal so heavy he could hardly have been able to move?
In response, Moran created Harness: Armour for Birds, now on display not far from the child’s armor. The ridiculousness of a bird wearing armor is exactly the piece’s point. At what point do you become so self-protected that you can no longer do the thing you were created to do? How much protection do you need—and how much can you bear before you stop being able to grow, or fly?
Jesus knew about burdens, the ones the world gives us and the ones we give ourselves. He knew about harnesses, and yokes. Don’t put on the heavy armor, he said. Put on the light armor. Don’t put on the armor that smells like grease and machines and war. It might protect you, but it will sink you to the ground. Instead, put on the armor that feels like feathers on the wind and smells like the sun on a child’s skin. Don’t put on the world, he said. Put on me.
Jesus, may your love be the only breastplate I wear between me and the world. May it protect me from my fear and let me rise. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.