It’s August, the holiday season, when many of us take a break and if lucky enough go away on holiday. This is actually a fairly recent expectation as we have all become more affluent. The original break from school was to enable the children to help gather the harvest to ensure survival through the harsh winter.
This made me reflect on what August had meant to me over the years and I realised that it was often a time of waiting and preparing. September was frequently the time of new beginnings. First starting school then changing schools, starting my first job, changing jobs, being ordained. Having children this pattern was repeated and I see it again for my grandchildren. So August was frequently a transition month; a month to prepare for new beginnings with natural nervous excitement.
I was reminded of this as I joined the REinspired team leading sessions for the leavers of St Andrew’s and Aston Rowant schools preparing them for the likely challenges that lay ahead of them as they grow into teenagers.
We explained that as Christians we believe that God has lots of ways to protect us and we based our explanation on that well-known letter of Paul to the Ephesians (v6:10) ‘The armour of God’. Paul had looked at how the uniform of the soldiers gave them physical protection. Did he have an equivalent for spiritual protection?
His thoughts are summarised as follows: -
God guiding our thinking and choosing, is our helmet,
Our faith in God is our shield against being led into wrong ways by other people’s influence,
We can defend ourselves with the sword of faith when we feel attacked,
Following God’s commandments is our breastplate,
The truth of being loved by God is our belt surrounding us,
Following God’s direction for us is our feet shod with his gospel of peace and hope.
Whether you are going on holiday, or staying at home, I pray that this month you know God’s protection surrounding you. Bringing refreshment, love, peace and hope so that you are prepared for whatever lies ahead.
Rev.d Des Foote