Finally, build up your strength in union with the Lord and by means of his mighty power. Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks. For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age. So put on God’s armor now! Then when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist the enemy’s attacks; and after fighting to the end, you will still hold your ground.
So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people. And pray also for me, that God will give me a message when I am ready to speak, so that I may speak boldly and make known the gospel’s secret. For the sake of this gospel I am an ambassador, though now I am in prison. Pray that I may be bold in speaking about the gospel as I should.
In ancient times, protective Centurion’s amour was well understood. The significance placed on each article of clothing is very revealing. The belt/truth firmly confines your central axis, horizontally (human world) and vertical (heavenly world). Breastplate/righteousness shelters your front, and goes before you as you step forwards. It shelters/protects your back from unseen danger, a significant thing for new Christians back then. Shoes protect your missional living, active feet/sharing of faith – no standing still in this image. Your ‘take with you everywhere’ faith/shield shelters your heart (love/emotions) and soul (gut, where your soul was thought to be). Salvation/helmet shelters ‘who you are’ (brain/thinking/choices). The Word of God/sword goes before you, sheltering you from advancing forces/guiding and cutting through any dangers. We are completely balanced (belt), sheltered before, after, (breastplate), protected, stable footing (shoes), sheltered heart and soul (faith), thinking/wisdom (helmet), with God’s Word guiding/protecting before us. Our faith shelters us in God.
Prayer of Confession
God of shelter, we seek your forgiveness.
We grieve over what we have not done,
and groan over what we do not have.
In this world, we create home and shelter
that is so easily replaced or updated.
We fall for the relentless change to uplift our souls,
rather than seeking shelter in your consistent presence.
We long to shed what is unnecessary
and be surrounded by your unchanging love.
Forgive us, God of shelter.
Words of Assurance
God brings us to a place of peace,
Where truth rings out as a song on the wind,
Where shelter is found in the gentle, kindly grace that is welcoming to us all.
In peace, with truth, we are welcomed to rest our weary soul.
Thanks be to God.
Prayer of Adoration and Thanksgiving
Bird song reminds us of fragile nests that keep them safe.
Waves recall us to the constantly moving deep water,
Providing home for such a variety of life.
Rustling breezes remind us of trees anchored deeply
In ancient soil that offers nourishment and protection.
You, O God, are beyond our understanding.
We are transient and so small a part of the greater creation.
Yet, we shelter in you, are part of the family of God,
who bring a sense of belonging and welcoming grace.
In you we find shelter, and offer our heartfelt thanks.
Commissioning and Benediction
Go in the grace of the gentle smile
Be uplifted by the grace of the welcoming hand.
Join in the laughter with the grace of the humorous tale
And see where God greets you as you journey on.
God’s grace greet you, hold you, heal you, and journey with you each day.
© Rev Anne Hewitt 18/08/2021
This reflection & prayer may be shared as long as the original writer is credited.
Past Reflections and prayers can be found at churchestogethersa.org.au