Don't worry... Alleluia

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ss=MsoNormal>I speak to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen 

Consider the Lilies of the Field…

            Look at the birds of the air…

Today in our Gospel passage from Matthew - a segment taken from the Sermon on the Mount - we are called to Consider… and Look at God’s creation

And what better time in the year – then today? …

Well, maybe every other time of the year is better than now

With our snow and high winds on Friday and our warmer weather today and rain forecasted for tomorrow

It is, maybe, the time of the year that most needs our imagination to consider and look at the beauty in the natural world - all around us

But all around us it is beautiful - just Thursday when I was walking in from my car, the sun was shinning, the snow a fresh wonderful carpet on the ground and there were song birds singing and flying about in between the evergreens

We here, at Farringdon are blessed not only with a beautiful worship space but also with a beautiful location - beautiful in the all the seasons

Fall happens to be my favorite time of the year

                                    When I was growing up - on Sunday afternoons

After a family lunch of cold cuts and fresh bread and pickles, olives and a variety of cheeses – spread out like a banquet of abundance

                                                            We would go for a hike out on the escarpment - on the Bruce Trail

                                                                        And spend most of the afternoon considering and looking                                                               … and being part of God’s creation

To smell the fresh air and the special unique odor of leaves drying and changing colour

            And to see the handiwork of God’s paintbrush

                        - With the many shades of green, brown, yellow, orange, and red

We live in a truly magnificent part of the world - place that provides richness in all four of the seasons

            But it is fall and harvest time that I like the best

                        It is because, in part, the physical beauty - but also because it is the time of Harvest

Now I know that today in our grocery stores we can get products grown in greenhouses from all over the globe which keeps us from the natural cycle of the seasons

        But somehow the locally harvested vegetables in season still have their effect

                The produce section, in the harvest time of the year, is telling a different tale then the usual

o       The potatoes varieties are not limited to the browned-over tougher skin, that can travel or store well, but includes the fresh ‘new potatoes’

o       Corn spills over

o       There are squashes of many shapes and colours

o       And in general is there is a message of abundance

               I love to think of God’s creation in the harvest time with all the abundance…

Spring too, is a season of great beauty, the grass has returned to growing after its winter hibernation, the bare branches are replaced first with buds and then quickly with a wonderful canopy of leafs.

Then there are the spring flowers, colours from every shade of the rainbow.

I, personally, am really looking forward to this spring – the first spring for the landscaping project in the front of the church.

The drawings give us a glimpse of the beauty that awaits – but seeing it in person, I am sure will be a great pleasure

And it is spring with the first flowers that Jesus spoke to us in our gospel passage of today

I imagine Jesus picking a single stem of a wild lily and saying, “Look carefully at this wild flower of the field.”

As we look and marvel at its fragile beauty, He challenges us by saying effectively “Are you too busy to look carefully at the wild lilies of the field?”

Are you too caught up in your hurried and harried life so that your heart is no longer captured by the beauty and intricacies of wild flowers?

That is the first lesson of today

            Life is more then just… us - stop and smell the roses - consider them

But if you are like me - like most of our Bible study group

We meet Tuesday mornings at 10am and the Ladies Tuesday evening at 7pm - newcomers always welcome

Your focus of the gospel passage was not on the lilies or the birds but on what Jesus is telling us about “worry”

                               The word ‘worry’ comes up 6 times

                                     This is a very popular and important passage that so clearly speaks of the subject

Knowing that anything repeated in scripture is something that we should be very careful to observe and understand

                                                            And here Jesus is telling us ‘not to worry’:

                                                                        About food - or drink - or clothes

When I hear and read this passage, my mind immediately goes to two songs

            The first is by Bob Marley called ‘Three Little Birds’ the main chorus repeatedly says

                        "Don't worry about a thing, 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right.

            The second is by Bobby McFerrin called ‘Don't Worry Be Happy’

And the message is, regardless of what life throws at you – homelessness, no money for rent, no girlfriend – whatever the troubles in life – “Don’t worry, be happy”

Both are catchy tunes – that once you have heard them they stick in your head and leave you feeling… well, happy

                                                For that reason alone, I like them both

                                                            However is that what Jesus is saying

Is Jesus really telling us to simply ‘not worry’ – everything will be all right and just… be happy?

            I can tell you that have heard more than one preacher go on a rant about how silly this attitude is

It is the source of great frustration for some, that in ten verses with 274 words, some people only hear two

            I won’t go on a rant – but Jesus is teaching us more than the two Bobs

Then as now, Food and drink, are of course necessities of ‘life’

And clothing is vital and representative of many things - at its most basic level - security - protection against the elements

                        Is Jesus saying that we are not supposed to be concerned with life and security?

Well, like so often when we have questions about scripture, we need to look deeper - to do some homework

Like for instance coming to Bible study – Tuesday morning or evening…

With questions, we need to look at what Jesus is really saying

Let’s consider it at the word level first

“worry” – this is a valid translation but it means more then we might tend to understand it as – where we think of worry primarily as ‘anxiety’

                        The Greek word used means be preoccupied with or be absorbed by

Now when we consider that we are not to be preoccupied or absorbed with something - even vital basic necessities

                                                We are given a new layer beyond mere anxiety


Jesus was not telling His audience to become carefree and irresponsible. He was, instead, exhorting them to set priorities for themselves:

            Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?(Matthew 6:25b)

If we were to stop there - we would have some sense of what God wants us to do

            We would - by ‘reading through the lines’ understand that:

  1. life is more important then to be preoccupied with materials things
    • the food we eat
    • or what we drink
    • or where we live
    • and what we drive
  2. that we should slow down and consider and look at God’s creation
  3. The passage does not mean, that food, drink, clothing, and other such necessities will come to the disciple automatically without work or foresight. It addresses only the problem of preoccupation about these things.

o       For Christians of every age, anxiety is incompatible with a lifestyle focused on God’s kingdom. Indeed, anxiety and worry need not rule the disciple who “has known the grace of God”

Stopping there gives us lots to think about and to act on…

            But that is not where Jesus ends

And as a side note - anywhere in the bible where words like:

            But – Therefore – or  However

                        Anytime these words show up - get ready for the heart of the message

For the fiscally minded ‘The payout’

In our second last verse Jesus states:


But strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33)

All this talk about birds… and lilies… and worry…, all of it - leads up - to ‘what we are simply called to do’

            Strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness

We go to the greatest of all commandments – as Jesus said “the first and great commandment…”

And the reoccurring message through-out the Old and New Testament

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27)

We are told the two parables: of the birds of the air, and the lilies of the field - to bring home the message of why God created us

            How we are not to be preoccupied with things before God

                        That ‘worry’ is being preoccupied with something else…first

                                    That it is an action of a lack of trust and faith in God

Jesus asked as recorded in Matthew 16:

     “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

THEREFORE - we are to strive also for His Righteousness

This is the part of the reading that doesn't always get proclaimed when people focus on the lesson about worry

                   However, all the rest of the teaching have been leading up to this point

When I reflect on this verse, a childhood memory of church comes to mind

During the communion time at the church that I grew up going to, Hymns would be quietly played and sung by the worship team

            This was one of the main ones:

                               Seek ye first the kingdom of God                               And His righteousness,                               And all these things shall be added unto you,                               Allelu, alleluiaAs we, the community of God, gathered and were sharing in the heavenly rehearsal, in the thanksgiving banquet of communion, we were remind that we are to seek God… first               And in communion we were doing that                               That our responsibility is on-going – in the relationship with God                                              That it is active – and not passiveThat by orienting ourselves to God’s kingdom and righteousness …by doing, we will be blessed by God There is a Latin saying – Lex orandi, lex credendi

For those of you that understand Latin, you may recognize it as an important saying of the church

For those that don’t understand Latin – aren’t you impressed that I know some Latin?

It is roughly translated to mean:

"The law of prayer is the law of belief"

And refers to the relationship between worship and belief, and is an ancient Christian principle which provided a measure for understanding the development in the faith

            As we pray – as we order our life of worship

                        We are ordering our belief

                                    We are growing in belief by our worship

It is the reason that the worship service is structured as it is

            Beginning with an invitation, then prayers of confession as we enter into God’s nearer presence

                       Followed by teachings by God’s word – and an exposition of word known as the sermon

We pray and ask for God to be part of our petitions and intercessions

            Spread throughout are Hymns – all chosen to match the teachings of the Bible

                        And as Luther has said “when you sing, you pray twice”

And finally concluding with being sent out into the world beyond the walls of the church building with The Blessing in the name of the Holy Trinity and concluding doxology

Through-out it all we are worshiping and growing in faith and belief by our worship

            Lex orandi, lex credendi

Strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33a)

Order your life around the kingdom of God and His righteousness

"Righteousness" in the Bible is not ethical, moral or legal behavior; Rather, righteousness is fulfilling the demands of a relationship with God and with humanity

It means doing what God wants without regard to how it might make us look.

Jesus' obedience receives much attention in Matthew.

His Righteousness is not primarily about being ‘right’,

But about doing what God wants and that is always connected to God's saving, compassionate purpose.

Righteousness is obedience to God’s will and ways - being a disciple - a student of Jesus

            Living life as a witness - freely choosing to follow and live out a life respectful and           honourable to God – as we order our life

Saying in the relationship … I will learn your ways and ‘live them out’

                                    ‘God first’ means striving for His Righteousness


So… consider the beauty of creation – all provided by God

Don’t place anything before God – don’t be preoccupied – placing concerns before righteousness

            Strive for the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness

                        And God will in turn, who knows your needs – not your wants, but your needs

Will provide - Amen

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