God’s Armour For Our Time

Armour - Cropped

Word cloud created with text from Ephesians. 

Tender.

Passionate.

Strong.

Compassionate.

Words that we could use to describe Jesus.

They are also words I would use to describe Wonder Woman as she is portrayed in the movie. Here is a brief synopsis of it:

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, daughter of Hippolyta, who told her that she was formed from clay and had life breathed into her. Sounds like a creation story from Genesis doesn’t it?

Raised and trained as a warrior on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot, Steve who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that this is due to the Ares, the God of War, and convinced she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Diana/Wonder Woman learns that human beings, in addition to the violence and brutality embedded in their very nature, are also capable of self-sacrifice, love, compassion, and courage. She is faced with a choice—will she, as Aries does, seek to destroy human beings because of their evil, or will she embrace their inherent goodness in the face of inherent evil?This, arguably, is precisely the choice faced by the divine with regard to human beings—the Christian story of the incarnation establishes which way God chooses. Each of us, on a daily basis, is faced with the same choice. Good and evil is in us, as is the capacity to decide which will dominate, at least for today. So much good. So much evil. Just add water. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/freelancechristianity/theology-wonder-woman/

There are conflicting stories about the inspiration behind Wonder Woman, who was created in 1941. Some say it was Margaret Sangar, the woman who promoted birth control and female empowerment back in the 1920, some say WW was modeled after a friend/companion of the creator.

Whatever the origins, she is a strong, capable woman who fights out of love and compassion, not simply to fight. She reminds me a bit of Esther… are you familiar with the story of Esther?

Esther became queen of Persia after the former queen, Vashti, was put aside for not complying with the king’s request to show herself to his banqueting guests…. A banquet that had lasted for 186 days. And it seemed that Vashti had had enough. The king begins his 12 month search for a new queen… Esther, a young and presumably attractive orphan, is brought before him and in due course, becomes queen. There is drama, there is subterfuge, there is treachery and it there comes a time that he king is going to kill all of the Jewish people. Unbeknownst to him, Queen Esther is Jewish. Esther’s uncle Mordecai, who had raised her, asks her to intervene with the king… for if all the Jewish people are to be killed, she would be among them. There is only one problem… no one is allowed to speak to the king without first being summoned by him. The penalty for violating this protocol is death. Her uncle urges to intervene on behalf of the Jewish people with these words from Esther 4:

14 For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.”

For such a time as this.

Wow, who among us, when faced with saving an entire race of people from genocide by violating royal protocol, would have the courage to do so? And yet, Esther, like Wonder Woman, clothed with courage and compassion, does so and saves her people.

There is LOTS more to delve into in the book of Esther, but I am going to leave you remembering her courage and compassion. Wonder Woman embodies the same characteristics. She exhibits both courage and compassion. And in contrast to most superhero action movies, there is not gratuitous violence. Wonder Woman wreaks havoc in response to injustice and cruelty towards those who are the most vulnerable in a war, women and children. She doesn’t initiate it. Her training made her confident in her physical abilities and her belief that if she could only stop Ares, the hatred would end made her a formidable force.

So, what has this got to do with us as followers of Jesus?

Well, while Jesus wasn’t a violent man, in fact, the only record of his being angry is turning over the tables in the temple. But his training in the Hebrew scriptures enabled him to challenge and engage both scholars and peasants. His belief that everyone was important and that the Hebrew people as a group were more than a dominated people. With his words and with his actions, he fought against exclusion and oppression… to his death.

How do we train for 21st century Christianity? What can we do to prepare ourselves for the battle against forces that are evil. Forces such genocide, starvation, slavery, all of which still exist in our world. And the devil, or a dark force or spirit can convince us that there is nothing we can do. But that is not true… there are lots of things that we could do… if we chose to. We can take Paul’s words from Ephesians to heart. Listen again, this time, words from The Message version of the Bible:

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.

Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind of drops out.  Or, as one of the people that came to see the movie on Monday evening said,

Women are strong, protective and sensitive…. sensitive not in the weak aspect but in the aspect of being aware of what is going on, what is right and wrong, and being able to adapt when necessary. The God’s of old, their teachings, are still very prevalent in today’s world, and even when vanquished by the main Father, their ideals still creep into mankind. There will always be evil, but through our belief systems we can persevere.

There will always be battles to fight, some with known outcomes, some without, we can only approach them as they arise. Believe in love, self-love, love for others and be willing to sacrifice for what we perceive, and believe to be right for the greater good.

We need to recognize that all human life is valuable in God’s eyes. We cannot be the judge; that is for God, we can however strive to be better. (Jill Fraser)

How do we strive to do better? How do prepare ourselves to stand against the forces of evil? Most of won’t be called upon to make any grand, sweeping gestures that will save the world. But… each of can change the world by challenging racism, sexism, homophobia and so on when we encounter it. And perhaps the biggest one these days, challenging misinformation. All of us, in small ways can make the world a better place. Sharing a bit more of what we have. Writing a letter in support or against something. Learning more about our First Nations people and their experiences.

And just like last week, I say, lean on Jesus. Study his life and what he taught… read the Bible, with adult eyes. Read it as if were the first time you were reading it. Do one thing that is different.

Pray.

Love

Encourage one another.

Share.

Thanks be to God for the challenge and opportunity of putting on the armour of God, amen.

Esther – Selected Verses
Ephesians 6: 10-17

(C) Catherine MacDonald – July 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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