We are all called – not necessarily to pulpit ministry, but we are all called by God to go out into the world and be God’s hands and feet. We are called to bring change, to help others in crisis, to be a shelter in times of hurricanes, to be a present in the time of storms, to stand strong knowing that no matter where we are called to go or what we are called to do, God will be present still. Our call might not bring immediate fulfillment. Our call might be difficult and undesirable. But if we trust in the promise of God we know that our call is worth all of that.
Our message for today is to see Christ’s kingdom in our everyday items and moments and lives. And knowing that they too are a part of God’s kingdom. This is the way of Jesus Christ. It’s not always glamorous or glitzy. But it’s full of love, it’s full of grace, it’s full of the holy breaking through.
This armor of God is a powerful thing. Because just as spiritual powers of evil are real, so are the spiritual powers of good. And these powers are not only for the rich or high class or the ones seen as mighty by the world, but for all of God’s wonderful children.
But God is always good. God uses yirah not to turn us away, but to draw us near and change us from the inside out. The Fear of the Lord does not mean to hide from God as if God is some evil tyrant ready to attack and destroy. It means instead to get ready, because you are about to see something extraordinary and your life will never be the same.
We don’t want a god who is never angry. A god who is never angry is a god who doesn’t care. A god who is never angry is a god who doesn’t love us so much that our pain is God’s pain, that our joy is God’s joy. A god who is never angry is not so connected to us and this whole creation that god would come and take on our flesh and blood to teach us and guide us and heal us and show us a whole new life. A god who is never angry would be an abstract, uncaring, unloving god. And that’s not the God who made us, and redeems us, and is with us wherever we go.
What Jesus is offering is not something that can be sold. It doesn’t have a great jingle. There’s no flashy sales pitch. Instead, it’s “Pick up your cross and deny yourself.” It’s “love your enemy and give your second cloak.” It’s “forgive 7 times 77 times” and look at the “log in your own eye before judging your neighbor.”
This isn’t the last time the disciples will be scared. This isn’t the last time they will question if they can make it. But each time, Christ reminds them they aren’t alone. Each time, Jesus tells them God will be there, whether it be the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit. And each time they will be strengthened and encouraged to go to a new place and tell the world about grace and new life.
This passage first reminds us that God is not limited to any sole place. We can’t keep the Creator of heaven and earth locked up inside these walls, because heaven and all of creation is God’s dwelling place. We can’t limit God to an hour a week on Sunday because wherever we go, just like the tabernacle in the wilderness, God will travel with us.
The church is meant to be a place of great welcome, where we can be our ridiculous selves and grow in God’s love. But too often we have been a place that has kept people out – people of different skin colors, people of different class and backgrounds, people with different sexual orientations, people with different gender identities. And in doing so, we have born false witness. We have turned the true God of dance and joy and song into a God of prejudice, fear, and hurt.