Monday, February 28, 2011

don't really....don't worry.

This weekend's sermon.  For those who heard it in person, depending on the worship service time got some extra illustrations - maybe your bulletin was upside down...or maybe there were multiple typos in the hymn of the day....not done on purpose, but turned out to be great God moments. 

February 27, 2011
Epiphany 8A

Isaiah 49:8-16a
Psalm 131
1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Matthew 6:24-34

Please pray with me,
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen. 
What a comforting passage from the gospel today, right?  Do not spend time worrying…those little details are being taken care of.  Do not worry about tomorrow…
Don’t worry…or as Bobby McFarrin sang in the 80’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy. 
In every life we have some trouble, but when you worry, you make it double, so don’t worry, be happy. 
Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style, ain’t got a girl to make you smile…but don’t worry, be happy. 
Don’t worry…be happy…but as soon as we hear this passage…we begin to worry.  Isn’t that the case?  That as soon as you’re told not to think about something….bam! You can’t seem to get it out of your mind. 
Yet, Jesus encourages us, tells us, not to worry.  Wouldn’t you like to live a life with no worries…a life with no stress, easy days, everything you need is right there for you…it almost seems as if this worry free life is some place removed from life as we know it.  That it is unrealistic. 
 Unrealistic….that’s how it is for one familiar character who tries to live a worry-free life.  Perhaps some of you have seen the movie The Lion King?  The future King, Simba, faces a tragedy in the loss of his father and pretty much runs away from life as he knows it, where he bumps into two new friends…Timon & Pumba who teach him their motto: Hakuna Matata.  Which means, no worries.  They tell Simba to forget his worries and troubles, to just enjoy the carefree life that they live and love. 
So that’s what Simba does, he leaves the life that he knew, for this care-free, easy living with his new best friends.  No worries…what a great life to live, right? 
But for Simba, he lives this life because he chooses to leave the past behind him.  He chooses to walk away from his responsibility as King of the jungle.  He doesn’t want to worry about how others will see him and what they will think of what he has done…so he pretty much begins a new life. 
Now here’s the thing, I think we, too, have that tendency to be like Simba…we long for a life with no worries, anxieties and stresses.  And from time to time we have the opportunity to get away….to vacation, to be away from work, school, and sometimes we get away from family and loved ones, just to be able to breathe and find ourselves.  Which can be a good thing, but not a permanent thing. 
That’s probably the biggest challenge in hearing Jesus telling us not to worry…we’re human, we’re like come on Jesus, are you serious?  How can that be…in the world in which we live.  Don’t worry…be happy….that can sound shallow, frivolous and unrealistic.  How are we to live lives that are worry free?  
It seems like an impossible task.   
But Jesus knows us….and Jesus reminds us that living lives of faith does not mean a simple care-free life…like the one that Simba ran away to.  Living lives of faith, free of worry does not take the issues, concerns and challenges out of our lives.   
We still face setbacks, delays, failures, frustrations as well as joys, triumphs, victories and accomplishments.   
The point Jesus is making is that when our lives are focused on God’s call for each of us, then we have no room for worry.  Because it is all in God’s hands….and we are assured that we can handle whatever may happen to us…because God is in control and God’s faithful people belong to one another.  We are not alone. 
In God’s community, people look out for each other and share what they have; people take what they need and leave some for others.  In God’s community we think about each other…we think about our neighbors, their needs, worries and anxieties.   
God’s community is here and now. 
Few of us are exempt from worry and anxiety.  Most live with chronic anxiety, and we are scared of everything…of losing our homes, our jobs, not having enough for retirement, caring for our children until they reach adulthood, and sometimes helping to support them after that, avoiding danger and fear of terror attacks.  Those who have little, fret over having adequate shelter, food and water; finding a decent job; taking care of their families; having enough money to survive.  All of us – rich and poor – privileged and exploited – have legitimate reasons to fret and worry, even though we know such actions do not change the realities we face. 
Jesus understands this; his call to worry-free living is not based on unrealistic views of the world.  His words are for those who understand that God will not leave us without resources or support.  We can face life with all its uncertainties and contingencies with the assurance that we are not alone – that God hears, sees, and cares about us and our situations.  “Don’t worry, be happy,” because God is in control. 
And now may the peace, which passes all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and let all God’s people say, amen. 

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