I have always loved castles. While I’m not a huge fan of fairy tales, something about castles has always caught my imagination. I’m fairly certain it had something to do with the fact that not too many castle like buildings are found in rural southwestern Minnesota where I grew up. But there was also something about all the different nooks and crannies such a building would inevitably hold. Secret passageways, servants quarters, grand fireplaces, barricaded entryways and so much more. So when I had the chance to spend some time in Scotland, the country with the most castles per capita of anywhere in the world, I couldn’t wait to get started on my list of castles to visit.
One of my favorite castles was Edinburgh castle. Edinburgh Castle sits atop a high, rocky point in the heart of the city and has been a place of defense for those who have dwelled in the land for well over a thousand years. It is a place defined by history and still in use today as an active military post. While there is much to see, including some of the oldest crown jewels in Europe last worn by Mary, Queen of Scots in the 1500’s, the space which comes to mind today in the Great Hall.
Completed in 1511, this grand space was used by royalty to entertain the important people of the day. To walk into it 500 years later is still to pause and appreciate that this space makes a statement. Today, armor features strongly into the décor giving the impression of the knights of history still standing guard. For all the castles I visited, not many had actual armor displayed. Part of it simply was that knights are belong in the history of England and other parts of Europe. Part of it was that not all castles once housed kings and queens in Scotland, some housed Bishops, Cardinals, Dukes, and other high ranking officials who, while important, often didn’t include knights in their security detail.
It’s amazing to look at actual suits of armor. They are stiff and heavy. They don’t leave much of the body vulnerable to attack. They aren’t quickly or easily torn off and broken apart. They include weaponry and so are as much about offense in a battle as they are about defense. If you a knight’s armor, you quickly learn that there is nothing which is strictly a fashion accessory, but everything has a purpose. Even things which would be consider optional such as a coat of arms being part of the shield or it being a certain color serve a purpose in identify on whose behalf the knight is fighting.
Ephesians 6 gives us instructions to put on a special suit of armor, the armor of God. While we are literally picking up heavy, metal pieces to strap onto our body, each piece of actual armor a warrior would wear into battle is matched with some aspect of living out our Christian faith. And just as each piece of the warrior’s armor has a specific purpose, each piece of God’s armor for the believer has a specific purpose. In the next six weeks we will be looking at the individual pieces of God’s armor and talking about how it is designed to help us live the life to which God has called us.
- Consider a knight’s armor. Which piece would you find the most cumbersome and be tempted to leave behind? Which piece would you find the most helpful and be sure to grab? Why?
- Read Ephesians 6:10-18 for an overview of the Armor of God.