One Sunday morning a few weeks ago, SHW, the kids, and I joined some friends for Worship on the Water at the Florabama Lounge. It was one of my sabbatical goals to worship there, but to be honest, I found it disappointing. I didn’t drink a beer during church, though I suppose I could have. The music was entertaining, but nobody was singing along, even when they sang Amazing Grace. The theology was what you might expect, conservative and evangelical, though with a healthy attitude toward outreach, especially to those battling addiction. What I found most disappointing, however, was the sermon.
The founding pastor preached. I’d heard good things about him, his ministry, and his preaching ability, but it was really quite flat. He told good stories and he had a few good punch lines, but he was sprinting the entire time. Maybe it was the heat, but he left us with no chance to laugh at the jokes because he was already on to something else. You didn’t come here for a review of Worship on the Water, however. You came here to read something about the Bible. Coincidentally, the sermon preached that morning was the last in a series on the armor of God that Paul writes about in the lesson from Ephesians appointed for Sunday.
While battle imagery has gone out of fashion in most Episcopal congregations, this image of being strong in the Lord is one that is vitally important, especially as we’re already 6 years into a 4 year presidential election cycle with another 15 months to go! The call to be ready to stand against the wiles of the devil and his “rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, and spiritual forces of evil” are perhaps even more crucial today then they were in the first century because if there is one thing the media is good at, it is hyping up what the King James’ version of the Bible calls “powers and principalities.”
Whether it is Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, or Ben Carson, the key to primary presidential politics these days is building and allaying fears. Immigrants are bringing drugs and taking your jobs, but I’ll deport them. Republicans want to leave the poor to starve to death in the gutters, but I’ll feed the masses. Hilary can’t be trusted with national security, but I’ll keep you safe. Liberals are spending us into slavery to China, but I’ve got a plan to cut taxes, stimulate growth, and remove all entitlements. The power and principality of fear is alive and well in our culture, and if we aren’t careful, if we aren’t strong in the Lord, we will easily succumb to its wiles.
Let’s put on the full armor of God and take on the fear that threatens to overwhelm us. Let’s place our trust in the LORD, not the rulers of this world. Let’s follow after the will of God and see about changing the world.