Year B Easter 6 WEDNESDAY, 12 May 2021
Video service from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
A Reading (Lesson) from Luke 12:22-31
He said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you-- you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
Who here worries?
If you are not raising your hand, you're telling a fib, and you shouldn’t fib even in virtual church.
Whenever we have an angel or God show up in the Bible, most of the time they start with the phrase, “Fear Not.” In fact, I have read that it is used in the Bible 365 times, one for every day of the year. Now, I have not done the homework to check that out, but it is a good quote. We’ll go with it.
Some say, to err is human. But I think it is even more honest to think, that to worry is human. We worry because we have these wonderful brains. And our brains think in stories. We are the storytelling creature. And when we worry it is our brains telling us a story about what could go wrong, a negative story.
But here are some statements about Worry, and let’s explore them.
“Worry is the Misuse of Imagination.”
Now think about it. If worry is the negative story we tell ourselves, what if we did the opposite? And every time we started to tell ourselves what could go wrong, instead we told ourselves what could go right. We imagine the positive. We visualize things going well. And then we can ask ourselves, what can I do to make things go well? And then we can do those things, and that positive visualization can come true!
So when we do not do the things that we need to do to make the good things happen, worry comes back…
“Worry is the emotional response to not being prepared.”
So how do we not have that feeling? We need to… BE PREPARED! That’s right. We need to do what needs to be done.
A story is told about a college professor who was trying to teach the lesson of getting the big things done, then minor things, then filling in the other stuff that life throws us. So he got a big glass jar, a pail of rocks, a pail of sand, and a pail of water. And he asked, “Do you think this will all fit in the glass jar?” Not one student did. And he said, “Not if we just pour it all in.” So he carefully placed in all the rocks. Then he carefully poured in some of the sand, shook the jar to fill in the cracks, poured some more, shook, until all the sand was in. And then he asked, “Is it full?” Now the students were catching on. And he poured the water in filling the tiny spaces between the sand, which was between the rocks, all in the glass jar.
When I plan out my days, I have to do it like the professor. What are the things that I HAVE TO DO? Or the things that CANNOT BE MOVED? I have to put those in first. Then I can fill in the rest of my day with things I would like to do, or could get done, or I will find fun and energizing. And then I pour in the things that life throws at me, phone calls, emails, Facebook, whatever. But the rocks have to be first. When I do that I do not have to worry. I have taken care of my responsibilities.
And, “Worry is not your Responsibility.”
Responsibility means that you have the ability to Respond. There are things that you can do, and probably should. But there are things that you cannot do, should not do, or are beyond your control. THEY ARE NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY! You can only do the things you can.
When I played tuba at the University of Richmond, my music professor had me playing some really hard parts. I got overwhelmed! I looked at the whole song, and thought, “I cannot play this!” But he said, look at one measure. “Can you play that?” Most I could, but some were really hard with hard rhythms. He said, then do not look at the measure, look at one beat. “Can you play that?” Yes, I could. He said, “When you are feeling overwhelmed and you have too much to handle, break it down into the smallest part you can until you can do it. Conquer that, then do the next thing, and so on, and so on, and so on.” I have taken that lessen with me the rest of my life.
Whenever I have a challenge, and it is my responsibility, I break it down into small manageable parts. And I do it one part at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
“Worry is letting my emotion, my fear, into the Driver’s Seat.”
In one of my favorite books, there is a phrase that is repeated. “Fear is the Mind Killer.” What makes us worry is our mind. But when we let worry drive the car, our brain shuts down. Fear kills the mind. When I choose to recognize that there is fear, but I do not let it take charge, I can still think, act, and respond. I get to stay in charge, and the fear just hangs out until I can deal with that. Fear is a warning system, a good one that came from years of evolutionary grooming. Bravery is, recognizing the fear, not letting it rule the day, and doing what has to be done.
In closing, Crises do happen. Bad things do happen. Remember Jesus said, “Today has enough troubles for today.” Troubles do come along, but when they do I can do these things:
I can be in the present, not worrying about the future and what MIGHT happen, but I can do what I can right NOW. And that is what I focus on.
I do what I can. That is my responsibility, nothing more, and nothing less.
I respond as I can.
And then I let the rest go. It is not my responsibility.
Don’t let Worry win. Or as all those angels put it, “Fear not!” Or as Jesus put it, “Do not worry about your life.” Amen