PASTOR'S MESSAGE: You Are Called
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
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.
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
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.
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