Do not worry about your life? Are you serious, Jesus? Is there ANY WAY we can take today’s text seriously?!
Do not worry about your life? All we do is worry about our lives; it’s how we survive! What we will eat, wear, do, how we will keep the lights on, cover our pensions, pay our taxes, protect our loved ones, get safely home after church...WE WORRY constantly. How can we possibly even hear what Jesus is saying to us today? Do not worry? Easy for him to say, right? He didn’t have a family. Jesus probably had people who traveled with him and cooked for him. And if he didn’t then he’d just turn a few loaves and fish into a feast. Do not worry, indeed. [pause]
I had a classmate in college who decided not to worry: I still remember the night before a final exam in microbiology, she came by our room where we were working as a group – worrying our little hearts out, as we studied our little brains out. “How’s it going?” she asks us calmly. We all gave our panicked answer, and then someone asked her. “How about you; are you ready for the test?”
“Well,” she said, “I’ve just decided to stop worrying about it.” [What?] “Yeah, I’m just going to ‘let go and let God.’ That’s my new mantra. It’s in God’s hands.”
And then I actually remember feeling a little judged as a Christian for not taking God more seriously the night of that test as I powered through with my study partners until early morning. I mirrored and harbored the same irritated tone with her that you’re probably hearing from me right now. Are you serious, don’t worry? [pause]
This is an extreme example—this college classmate of mine—but it begs the question: At what point does our “not worrying” become irresponsible, shortsighted and foolish? Sometimes almost unfaithful.
How can we possibly hear this comforting, “still, small voice” of Jesus…today? I think this text is as quiet as a whisper for us who worry.
Worry is inevitable. It’s how we’re built. Once again, I don’t think we can take this text literally and just turn off our worries. But I do believe that there is a powerful message here that we can take seriously, and while it is simple, it is a message that we must hear again and again.
Ultimately my classmate was right, even while I didn’t agree with her actions (or non-actions). Her words were right, about God’s hands. All things are ultimately in God’s hands.
I think now is not enough time to meditate on this passage, it is too profound, so I should wrap up—we’re worried and distracted and anxious about too many other things. But that doesn’t mean we can’t ever meditate on it. We need to marinate with these words, not slap them on quickly. This is the kind passage that doesn’t do much good, at a glance…as we rush through our Sunday morning routine or our 1 hour Bible Study or our individual 15 minute devotion. Jesus-calling-us-not-to-worry must be instead a constant prayer…it must sit with us, and be [slowly]…as readily available to us as breathing. [pause] When you lay down tonight try breathing, “Do not worry. Do not be anxious. God is God.”
At the center of our Gospel text today is a message about God: “God is faithful.” [turn and see on p. 4]
I’m not sure we ponder enough on God’s faithfulness. Faithfulness seems more like something for us humans to worry about. But God is the one with the Great Faithfulness. And God’s faithfulness is to us! God’s unending commitment is for us. God will not abandon us. This is what Christ is finally saying, but it takes some peeling away of our worrying to hear it. Our worries and anxieties, our panicked and irritated tones, can make Jesus’ voice so hard to hear. But Jesus speaks nonetheless: God will not let you go. Stop worrying so that you can hear that. God will never leave you alone, God will strengthen you and never forget you.
And so as we move into new territory—a new year of life (for those celebrating birthdays), a new way of life (for those experiencing loss and grief), an onward journey as a congregation (as we meet today to celebrate the past year and get excited about 2011), or simply as we venture into a new week of work or searching for work, of family or searching for family. As we venture into a new week of life—sisters and brother in Christ, know that with God there is new life always. We mustn’t let our worries cloud this fact (and worries try to cloud this fact): that in Christ there is always new life, and that new life, pushes aside our fears and anxieties, and finds us this day. Jesus Christ raises us from the dead today and proclaims: God is faithful, God will not let you go, God will never leave you alone, God will strengthen you and never forget you. AMEN.