Minnehaha Communion Lutheran - Pastor's Message
Minnehaha Communion Lutheran - Building Relationships with Christ and Each Other.

Season of Pentecost- Preached August 26, 2018  by Pastor Sally Ankerfelt 

Ready for the Ride” Sermon August 26, 2018 Ephesians 6:10-20

Dear friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our protector, Christ our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, our Guide and Comforter. AMEN

Any Harley owners out there? How many of you happen to have a little silver bell beneath the frame of your Harley?

Some Harley folks know exactly what I’m talking about. I had heard about this little bell years ago from a lover of Harleys. Both he and his wife owned one and both had these little bells tucked under the frame.

I looked it up and found an article from a news station in Wisconsin. (https://fox6now.com/2013/08/29/guardian-bells-on-harley-bikes-to-keep-riders-safe/)

The bell is intended to be like a guardian for Harley riders since they usually don’t wear protection, like Helmets. It even has the nickname, “Angel Bell.” The article said that some think it’s like a good luck charm, but others feel like it keeps evil away from them when they’re riding. And there are stories from riders, how they were spared in situations that might have been deadly.

The thing about this bell is that you’re not supposed to buy one yourself. Someone is supposed to give it to you. That’s just the way it is. It comes from someone else.

I find this to be an interesting story because all of us know that riding a motorcycle – and even a scooter – can be more dangerous than a car. You’re more exposed to the elements and to other cars. There’s only not much between you and the road, or another vehicle, or the rain or a falling branch. Even those Harley riders understand the danger of riding with only a bandana sometimes. They, too, need protection, so they have the angel bell.

I know that even on my scooter, I feel a bit vulnerable, even going on side streets. Scooters are not supposed to be on freeways, but they can be on highways. So, I once took a wrong turn and needed to get onto highway 100 for only 2 miles so I could get back on track. Now, I ask you, what’s the difference between highway 100 and the freeway 35W? Not much, I’ll tell you that! I felt like a little ant ready to be squashed by the speeding cars. After I finally got off the exit, my hands hurt from clinging so tightly to handle bars.

You know, I once saw a woman – she had a helmet on, thankfully- riding her scooter on I-94 wearing rain boots. My heart pounded for her. I could tell she was scared. I prayed she would make it safely off the freeway.

With all the dangerous twists and turns in life, we need protection. With all the wrong turns we make, the risky decisions that take us down paths we would rather not be on, we need strong armor around us, like helmets and jackets and boots, and breastplates. All this is to say that we need more than our own strength to make it through.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, is serious about all the stuff out there that can hurt us, tempt us, bring us down, and kill our souls, if not our bodies. He sees what’s out there and he sees what’s coming. So, he wants us to be able to, as he puts it, “stand firm in the Lord” so we will keep our focus on Christ and keep our strength in God.

And boy, does he have us covered and well-equipped! Look at what he has us wearing: the belt of truth so we do not get confused on what is true or not true. The breastplate of righteousness, shoes that get you moving so you can speak the good news of peace – and don’t we need that these days? Picture our faith as a protector, a shield against evil that takes pot-shots at you. And there’s the sword of the spirit -  God’s own word. And finally, the helmet of salvation. I love that image especially because helmet truly will save a rider from a head severe head injury and death.

Wear these at all times, is what Paul wants us to do.

After we got our scooter, Jeff, who has a motorcycle, gave us great advice. He said, unless it’s like 100 degrees outside, wear your leather jacket when you ride. It’s what prevents the road from making meat out of your skin and bones if you should fall.

Everything we have heard from Paul is intended for our protection, so that we can withstand what comes our way and be able, still, to live and thrive and love and serve.

Just like the angel bell for Harley riders, we don’t give it to ourselves. It is given to us by Christ: in our baptism, through Holy Communion, by hearing God’s Word. Everything given by God equips us to do the work of God, to ride the rough roads of life and to make it through.

Perhaps you feel a bit tired. Or maybe a better word is “vulnerable,” vulnerable to the current circumstances of your life, vulnerable to other people’s situations, reactions and responses.  I don’t know – maybe you even are struggling for your very life, just hanging on by a thread. Maybe you feel all alone.  It can be brutal out there.  I know. Life can be really hard.

Today is a good time to take up the armor that Christ has so graciously given.

Through the words and songs you hear today, find the truth that is shared and strap it around your waste. The truth of God’s love for you. The truth of your value and worth. The truth that God is with you.

Receive God’s peace that is shared among us in just a few minutes and imagine that that peace is like a running shoe, giving you great movement and traction.

Hear from God today what is good and right and place that on you as a breastplate.

Breathe in the faith that is in you and between us, faith given by Christ, so you will have it at the ready when doubt crepts in.

And remember that in life and death and everything in between, salvation is yours through Christ Jesus. This, friends in Christ, is your helmet of salvation.  

You got this, as they say these days. You got this! Actually, God's got this and gives you the tools to get this, too!

I love how Eugene Peterson puts it.  He translates it this way, 

“And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (MSG)

Yep, I couldn’t have said it better myself. That about says it all.  Today we pray together. Today we hear The Word. Today we are equipped once again for the journey. Thanks be to God. AMEN