Here at Msalato, we include a short sermon at Morning Prayer on Monday and Fridays — no longer than four minutes. Here is my first attempt at a sermon.
May I speak to you in the Name of the One, True, and Living God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Nilitaka kuhubiri katika Kiswahili, lakini nilihitaji dakika ishirini kuandika sentensi hii moja. Pole Sana. (I wanted to preach in Swahili, but I needed twenty minutes to write this one sentence. I’m very sorry.)
Demons are real. They are intelligent. They are determined. And they want nothing more than to separate you and me from the Love that is God. In today’s reading from Ephesians, Paul urges us to take a firm stand against the Devil’s schemes (6:11) and to fight against the spiritual forces (that is, the demons) of the heavenly realms (6:12).
The gospel accounts tell us that as soon as Jesus was baptized and the Father proclaimed him his beloved child, Jesus was immediately led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Likewise, in our baptism, the Father adopts us as his children. And like Christ, we are tempted by the Devil. Life in Christ here on Earth includes a constant struggle against the Devil and his temptations.
So what are the devil’s schemes?
Sometimes the devil (or another demon) will strike in a dramatic way (look for instance at the many demoniacs who have become violently possessed), but more often he tempts us each to small sins that slowly draw us one by one farther away from God. A demon will often use our Godly actions and turn them around. He may use our pious prayers to lead us to pride and smugness. He may use our well-meaning convictions to lead us into divisive factions. When we go to church to praise God, he may lead us to anger at the person who is making noise beside us. If we work hard one semester, he may plant the idea that it is acceptable to neglect our school work or cheat to make it easier the next semester. Demons know us well, and they will attack us at our weakest points. How are you most tempted?
So far, you might think that I am a terrible salesman for the Gospel. But if we are honest, we can’t sell Christianity as an easy life, free of suffering or temptation. As Jesus taught us, we too must take up our
Despite this, the Christian Gospel is in fact “Good News” – and here is that good news. Our God, the creator of all that exists, is more powerful – way more powerful – than Satan and all his fallen angels. We sometimes talk about God and Satan as being opposites, equal forces fighting a battle of good and evil. But this a dangerous heresy. Nothing that has been, is, or will be exists apart from God. God the creator is far more powerful than all creatures including the fallen angels.
And our God sent his only son to die a perfect sacrifice for us that we might be saved from sin, death, and the Devil. God equips us with the armor we need to resist the temptations of the devil. So as we are assaulted day in and day out by the temptations of the devil, we can put on the shield of faith, which no arrow can pierce.
In our baptism, we are born anew and made children of God. As Paul said to the Romans, Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. When the Church reformer, Martin Luther, was tempted by the devil, he would shout, “I AM BAPTIZED.” That is, baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ of God. Against that, the devil cannot possibly win.
Bwana asifiwe! (Praise the Lord!)