The Armor of Light

Chilly Mornings, Warm Beds

The weather in these last couple days and nights has shifted. Its chilly out there! I’ve quickly transitioned to snuggling under the covers for my night’s sleep. And I’m already finding it more difficult to crawl out of my cozy blankets in the morning to meet the brisk day. How about you?

Hold that thought.

And consider all the other reasons we might just want to stay in bed. This strange time we’re in—it has made our lives of 6 months ago look like a piece of cake. We’ve gone from seeming simplicity to overwhelming complexity in a short while. There are plenty of days that it all seems too much to take in. So, sometimes literally, and often times figuratively, we’d like to pull the covers over our heads, choosing to stay in our snug little nests of blankets instead of facing the difficulties of life today.

In this evening’s Bible passage (Romans 13:8-14), St. Paul says that we can’t live like that anymore—if we choose to follow Jesus Christ. He says that the light of day has dawned. We have to pull the covers off our heads to get up and face the sunrise. “In the light of day, we can no longer ignore the harsh realities of the world in which we live. When we neglect to live out the faith we profess, we’re living like we’re still in the darkness. We’re sleepwalking through life.” (Alan Brehm, “Sleepwalking” Sermon, 12/1/2013, First Presbyterian Church of Dickinson, TX)

St. Paul’s words ring like a loud alarm clock. Listen as he calls to us again: “Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” St. Paul is telling us that we’re in danger of hitting the snooze alarm for far too long. He calls us to take notice of what we’ve been sleeping through all this time.

Waking Up

These words make me look back to our ‘time before COVID-19.’ I’ve now woken up to those things I had taken for granted. I bet you have, too.

Things like my daily routine of getting up and going into work and running errands—those things were once done without thinking, and without a thought of wearing a mask. I’ve awoke to things like my relationships. I grieve the temporary loss of giving hugs to people I love, or holding hands with someone from our church when they’re ill.  I’d be praying with them without a second thought that I might be getting too close in physical proximity. I’ve woken up to be more thankful for things like my resources. I’m more mindful now of my health and stamina—and I’m more mindful of the physical vulnerability of anyone around me than ever before. I’ve also become alert to things like resilience, how you and I can adapt to what needs to be adapted to—like we’ve never imagined before. Things like, how we’re all tied together somehow and we’ll all manage through this together somehow.

But honestly, I think we’d all just prefer to pull the covers over our heads and sleep through this challenging time. I know when I get out of bed each day, it’s not just the growing darkness of the season of fall and the chill in the air that I’m needing to face. Our daily lives, and our world as we knew it, are threatened by gloom and night time. The light in the world is dim and the shadows loom.

Yet, St. Paul gives us a powerful urging through his words to the Christians in Rome. Words that are also to us.

Now is the time to wake from sleep. Now. The day is near. The time of darkness is ending. The time to live in God’s growing light is now. Do you hear the promise and the urgency in those words?

Here is the invitation to live in the light, to even be protected by the light. The actual Armor of Light is ours to put on in Christ Jesus.

Put on the Armor of Light

And so, in these days to come, I’m going to do my best to put on that armor of light which is given to me, to us, from Christ. You are invited to put on that armor too.

  • As you help your kids start these first days of school in ways that school has never stared like before, put on the armor of light.
  • As you Zoom through endless meetings until your eyes strain from the computer screen, put on the armor of light.
  • As you tend to your family, in person or from afar, put on the armor of light.
  • As you buy groceries, run errands, go to necessary appointments, meeting countless strangers who work in-person at stores or clinics so your needs can be met, put on the armor of light.
  • As I prepare for a graveside service next week, I’ll be putting on the armor of light.
  • As our church staff prepares to meet weekly online with middle school students for confirmation, or as we prepare to meet our children for church school via computer or as we lead you in worship, we’ll be putting on the armor of light.
  • As we gather food from our pantry garden or distribute it through our drive-up food pantry, we are still dressing in the armor of light.
  • As we watch COVID-19 counts, as we prepare for a presidential election in a divided time, as we live as engaged citizens in this country, we put on the armor of light.

Each day we are awakened to this time, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in our lifetimes. When we need the armor of light, St. Paul promises that it is already ours to be suited up in. We put on the armor of light, seeking not only to shine the light of love on those we know, but on those we have yet to meet. We get dressed in this armor one day at a time.

So, get out from under your covers to be clothed in this strong, radiant, and shielding outerwear provided to you by the Lord. Suit up with urgency each day, not only knowing that you and I will be protected from the shadows of the night, but that we’ll shine the light of love of God to all our neighbors.

Thanks be to God. Amen.