Sermon Date: October 10, 2021
By Pastor Elaine Boone
“May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O God.”
I confess. I confess to you that I am not very good at doing what Matthew is asking us to do. I worry about things. I do not want to worry about things - but I do. And I am pretty sure that I am not alone in this. I suspect that we all worry.
Matthew is telling us not to worry about what we will eat or what we will drink - he tells us not to worry about our bodies - he tells us not to worry about what we will wear.
But we do. We do worry about our bodies, we worry about what to eat and drink and wear.
Matthew wants us to believe that God will provide - like the lilies and the birds. Matthew wants us to focus on the Kingdom and then we will have what we need.
But Matthew’s words should not be used as prosperity Gospel. Matthew is not saying that it is ok to ignore the needs of others and put yourself first. These words are not meant to excuse those who profit on the back of others.
Matthew is talking to people who are worried. People like us.
It is often difficult to read or hear these words from Matthew. Its difficult to believe these words especially when we look around our world. As we see the contrast between those who have almost nothing and those who can spend hundreds of dollars on shoes or jeans or thousands on a purse.
How do we? Can we believe Matthew’s words when we know that worry dominates the lives of many of us. We know that people in our community worry each and every day about what they will eat.
And its not about choosing steak or chicken they are worrying about if they will eat - if their children will eat. And its not about worrying about the latest designer clothing - although I am sure celebrities and the ultra rich and fashionistas worry about that.
NO it is worrying if they will have a winter coat and boots. If last years clothes can be made to stretch for this years larger child. These are real worries. Worries that consume, that dominate. Worries that are not easily put aside as we contemplate the birds of the air or the lilies of the field.
How do we reconcile what Matthew is saying when we know those worries? If not 1st hand we know that our sisters and brothers are carrying these worries. How to get to the end of the month before the end of the money? How to pay bills and still house and feed and clothe oneself and ones family?
How can we believe Matthew how can we cease worrying when we know that the few have so much and the many have so little?
Where is the Gospel? Where is the good news?
It resonates through all our readings today.
Joel - do not fear for the Lord has done good things.
Our Psalm - the Lord has done good things for us and we are glad indeed.
Our second reading from Timothy- God desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Our readings resound with the theme - do not fear - God provides - there is abundance because God does wonderful things.
And so we turn once more to Matthew. And we can say OK Matthew easy for you to say do not worry. Because we DO!
But Matthew is not scolding - Matthew recognizes that humans do worry about what we will eat, what we will drink and what we will wear. And we do worry about our bodies. And we do worry about how to pay for it all.
Matthew is offering reassurance. Matthew is offering another way to look at the world.
Put God first. Do not put the demands of the world above God.
Put God first. And this re-orientation - this new way of looking at things. That will reduce your worries. Perhaps there will not be as much space for them?
Maybe the worries will be al little less. Maybe if we put God first and worry a little less we will be able to see and truly appreciate the wonder and beauty and abundance of our world. And it does not have to be a huge thing. It can be a small thing. The birds singing, a beautiful blue sky or a spectacular sunset or sunrise - the stars above.. It could be the laughter of a child or the song of a senior. It can be a warm hello or a smile. It can be the warmth of the sun on a beautiful fall day.
Constant worrying keeps us looking inward, not outward. Keeps us chained and restrained and not free to feel God’s love and presence.
Matthew is wise when he says that worrying will not increase the hours of your life.
In fact I think we could argue that worrying robs us of time. It robs us of our life. It does not add - it subtracts.
So today - let us take from our readings this good news. God has done great things. God is doing great things. Lay down your worries for a bit and consider the abundance in our lives. Consider God’s love in our lives. Think about God and praise God for the good things in your life.
And perhaps you can share this gift. Perhaps you can help someone else set aside their worries for a little while. Share the good news that we are all beloved children of God.
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