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Faith: Following in the faith of Jesus

Paul admonishes those who follow in the faith of Jesus to “take the helmet of salvation.” The helmet protects a disciple’s head from “the tricks of the devil and against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heaven (Eph 6:1-2).

The Rev. Anne Hokenstad, American Lutheran Church
The Rev. Anne Hokenstad, American Lutheran Church
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As we headed back from Storm Lake, Iowa, to our home in Worthington, I was glad my husband was driving. It was a perfect summer day, so the weather wasn’t an issue. We were both in good health, quite jolly actually. The reason I wanted to be in the passenger seat was that I had a good dose of curiosity.

Before we loaded up the car to head north, I opened a storage compartment and pulled out the manual for the new 2023 Honda Metropolitan 49cc Scooter I had just purchased. My interest was focused on the wonderful world of being a first-time scooter driver and owner, I had much to learn.

The opening pages revealed to me that even for scooter drivers, like me, the “full regalia of road gear” was recommended. It was as if I was to “put on the full armor of cycle safety gear” before heading out into the good world God has and is creating for each and all. From head to toe, scooter driver safety is about putting on the clothing that will keep you safe.

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the new Church in Ephesus wrote these words, “take the helmet of salvation” (Eph 6:17a). These words drift into my mind as I pull the three-quarters black motorcycle helmet over my head before heading about town. I had wanted a half-helmet; I would look more “cool.”

However, as I was talking with the accessories salesman at Storm Lake Honda, one of his co-workers started shaking his head and glared at us. I interpreted his response to my desiring a less safe helmet as full-out “no — not a good choice, lady!”

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This man’s reaction gave me pause and I asked my salesman if I could look at what I learned was a three-quarters helmet. It wasn’t long and I found myself walking out the door with this type of helmet in a box.

As I gazed at the pictures of recommended scooter gear, I quickly noticed that all of the pictures of scooter drivers riding 49cc Honda Metropolitan scooters had my style of helmets, not the more fashionable half-helmet.

In the store, as I was finalizing my helmet purchase, I did my best to thank the other salesman for his guidance. I said “well, this is the better choice. I am a preacher after all. I need to protect my brain — my work relies on it.”

As I recall that day, I am grateful for the unapproving stare that redirected my helmet choice from the fashionable to the reasonable. I like my three-quarters helmet. It’s sturdy and protects my face from the wind, and my eyes from the sun’s glare. It definitely protects my head, but I believe it also protects my heart.

Paul admonishes those who follow in the faith of Jesus to “take the helmet of salvation.” The helmet protects a disciple’s head from “the tricks of the devil and against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heaven (Eph 6:1-2).

Yet, salvation is heart work, more than head work. The salvation (soteria in the original Greek language) that comes from God in the way of Jesus is about bringing soteria (health, healing and wholeness) to living people today undergirding their daily lives with the promise of God’s eternal grace when this life ends.

This is the pastoral work I love the most — the life of walking with others as we seek together wholesome lives modeled after Jesus’ faith. Here is the deepest belonging I know — connection with God and others.

My three-quarters helmet protects my head, heart, and the joy I experience as I live the best life God is creating for me. May you be blessed in this life of health, healing and wholeness as you walk in God’s good world made for us all.

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Anne Hokenstad is pastor of American Lutheran Church, Worthington.

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