August 7, 2022: “May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts"
Do not be afraid! Really Jesus? That’s what you have for me today? Really? Do not be afraid. And how am I supposed to do that? How are we supposed to do that?
Let’s be clear. There is alot to be afraid of. Big stuff - climate change and climate disasters, war, gun violence, racism and hate, unemployment, health scares, inflation, rising costs for food and gas, COVID.
And there are smaller things to be afraid of too…..
Jesus said that neither fear nor a focus on worldly distractions should turn us away from God’s care.
BUT….and it feels like a big but sometimes. Unfortunately alot of our lives are filled with anxiety and fear about the future. There are fears about our future as individuals or perhaps even our future as human beings. There is fear about our future as a congregation. Look around - the pews are not filled. We know that we rely on rental income to pay the bills. We know that the work of the Church has fallen on a group of volunteers that is getting smaller and smaller. It is clear that we will have to pay people to do things that used to be taken care of by members of the congregation.
What if we left the future up to God? What if we let faith replace the fear? What if we invested in the things that matter to God?
Fear is a human response that turns our thoughts away from God. Fear gets in the way of seeing how God is working in our lives - perhaps how God is working through us.
There have always been alot of things to be afraid of. Jesus’ words here were counter cultural and they still are. Jesus’ words are of tender concern - a reminder that the fears of our world do not need to have the last word in defining our lives.
Fear is the opposite of faith.
In our Gospel reading today we are presented with four different images of the life of faithfulness. We are a flock that is well shepherded, we put our $ into sturdy purses, we are slaves served a table by the master and our lives are broken into by God’s very self.
Fear is faith’s opposite.
Jesus assures us that the reign of God is a sure thing. I think we could say it is already here. God’s rule already appears in the mess of our broken and fearful world. The kingdom appears in every act of care and compassion, in beauty and in love. The kingdom appears every time love overcomes hate. Each time alms are given. Each time we invest in flesh and blood instead of things. Each time those who are oppressed, widowed and orphaned are cared for. Each time we come to the aid of someone or something in need. The Son of Man keeps turning up.
Jesus said “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”. Where or what is your treasure made up of? Where is your heart? Is it in the things you possess or in the people that you love? Is your treasure something you hold onto tightly or is it something that you can give away?As a congregation, what is our treasure? Can we move past the fear of the future and instead, centre our hearts on God? Jesus said do not be afraid. And perhaps this is what we should be praying for, to replace fear with faith in the future. To pray that we can actually believe Jesus. To pray that God will comfort us. To pray that we will be able to trust. To pray that our treasures will be the same as Gods. Are our hearts open to God’s kingdom? For it is already here.