Taking Off the World’s Armor- Rev. Carol Devine Ephesians 6.10-20
I will never forget my son’s 3rd birthday when he received the first of many sets of batman pajamas. The pjs were gray with the bat symbol emblazoned across his little chest and a black cape on his back. He put them on immediately and, truth be told, was batman for the next two years – it was the perfect armor for a little boy.
We all need armor to protect us against trauma and pain of all sorts, and against wicked problems. If only there was a cape to give us courage to solve…racism, sexism, queerism, ableism, and the climate crisis.
We all want to be protected, but the armor the world provides is mostly not helpful, and has resulted in a society full of stress, anxiety, and addiction. The world’s armor, like the armor of Roman soldiers, is external, made of stuff and money, titles and awards, alcohol and drugs, and anything else we do or use to “protect” ourselves. It does not help us or protect us. It actually hurts us and those around us, including God’s creation. In the many layers of the world’s armor, our divine selves are lost. Finding our divine and authentic selves requires taking off the layers of this armor which takes courage, humility, and trust in God.
I have come to understand that white supremacy is a part of my armor. So, I have begun the work of taking it off. This has required me to be quiet more often to listen to the perspectives and experiences of people who are different from me, and to accept different perspectives and experiences as valid. I have looked more closely at the various systems of my life: financial, education, food, work, and church. When I feel myself get defensive or resistant – I pause, breathe, and pray. I have worn this ridiculous armor for so long that my body resists taking it off. But as I have begun to strip off the armor layers, I have felt more free; I have had more courage.
This summer, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report reemphasized that climate change is due to human behaviors, that severe weather events will continue to increase in frequency and severity, and that we can still make a difference if we act strongly and swiftly.
I can now see how white privilege reduces the impacts of climate change on my life. I live in an air-conditioned home in a neighborhood full of trees. I have a car, access to good health care, and nutritious food. I have many resources and if needed, I can move. The issue, of course, is not that I should not have these things, but that everyone should. Stripping off the armor of white privilege frees and empowers us to respond to the environmental racism. We have the courage to see and listen, to admit when we have been complicit, knowingly and unknowingly, to speak out and stand up for justice with kindness and humility.
Let us have the courage to step out in faith in the strength and peace of the Holy Spirit so that together we can do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God to face and solve the climate crisis.
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