Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch pew sheet 6 November 2022
Leisa bought me a handsome RM Williams leather belt for my birthday (a few months ago now, don’t panic). My existing, or pre-existing, belts are fine for holding my trousers up, but look the worse for their many years of faithful trouser-suspending service. You wouldn’t know that, because I wear shirts outside shorts and trousers. Leisa could have sized the new belt by measuring one of the old ones, but that’s not good enough for RM Williams who have a convoluted method of specifying size, which resulted in a strap large enough to secure one of those enormous old tin travel trunks with which you see porters struggling up the gangway of 1920s transatlantic liners. Unless I wrapped it around myself twice, my shorts would fall down. This week, I took it to a lovely old-fashioned cobbler on Flinders St who worked his craft magic and now it fits perfectly.
There are three well-known belt-wearers in the Bible. Two of them are prophets, Elijah and John the Baptiser. They each wore hairy coats secured by a leather belt. Not a fashion to which I’m attracted. The third? Well, a gang of us, you and me. In his “Whole Armour of God” passage (Ephesians 6:10-20), St Paul exhorts us to “Stand firm, then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist …” Go on, look it up if you’re reading online, or when you get home if you’re reading at church. The paragraph drips with military metaphor. Let me plug an excellent book, “Paul’s Metaphors: Their Context and Character” (late Revd Dr David Williams, Baker Publishing 2003). It’s still in print and Kindle, still required reading for many NT Studies courses, and just plain helpful for anyone who wants to dig into the 1stC background to much of Paul’s writing. You don’t need to be an academic theologian to get value from it.
And in case anyone should think that it is in our own strength that we fight battles against the “Powers of this dark world”, Paul kicks off the section with “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” I don’t know what battles you’re fighting or anticipating just now, nor whether you fear that you’re not a heroic enough soldier to fight them. Paul again, 2 Cor 12: Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness.