St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Faith More, Worry Less”
Collect: O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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.
The lectionary readings lately have been taking my mind to worry. They do not make me worry, but so much of what we deal with in living a life of faith is on the idea of fear and worry.
Today’s passage may be familiar to you. It is almost identical to Matthew’s version of the same teachings. Matthew has Jesus saying it at the Sermon on the Mount. Luke places it amongst other teachings on greed.
How much is enough? This is weighing a lot on my mind lately as we are looking to pack up all that we have and move it up here to Ashland. In fact, we are thinking of moving less than half of what we own and getting rid of the rest. I think on all the money we have spent over the years on stuff. So much stuff. They may have seemed to have been bought with the best of intentions, with the hope of being useful, but really were dust gatherers or why bothers. Oh well. We are learning. Leo Buscaglia said, “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its joy.”
But on the other side of the pangs of guilt, there is a real hope. A hope of whittling down to what we truly need, what we truly want in our lives. What do we really need? How little can we get by having? The thought of so much empty space is the real luxury, and I am hungry to get there. We might call what we have “possessions,” but too often they become “possessors.”
Now, I do not hear Jesus saying one cannot have nice things. This is not his words, and the alabaster jar of perfume attests to the fact that Jesus appreciated quality. He was a carpenter, and knew the difference between a quality job and one done in an inferior way. Something of worth instead of mountains of cheap.
What Jesus speaks to here is how we FEEL about our stuff. Stuff is just that. Stuff. George Carlin had a brilliant bit on our obsession with our stuff, and how our houses are our places for our stuff, and when we go on vacation, we rent a space for our stuff, and we have special bags for our stuff. And if we go on a day trip while away, we have even another bag for our stuff. We fret and worry about our stuff.
Jesus said not to do that.
Flowers. Birds. His disciples. Don’t fret about it. Even wise Solomon was nowhere near as nice a a lilly. So which was truly wise?
Our God is a God of Abundance. We are to be wise stewards. Taking care of and using well what we have been given. If you think on our things this way, that is what Sabbaths and Tithes are all about. We have such a generous God that 1 day out of 7 we need not work. Sabbaths are a statement of faith. Yahweh Jireh, God will provide. Tithing is saying that God has given us so much that we will be better than alrright with 90% of what we have been given.
Pray for us as we cull. We do not need so much. So much can find a better home. And God help us when we model it for our kids. If we put God’s Kingdom first, everything else, we are told, will take care of itself. We need to start using Faith as a verb. We do it with worry. Think about it. We should FAITH more, and WORRY less. Imagine rolling over in the middle of the night, and Faithing about your problems instead of worrying. Think of how much better our lives would be. Amen