Matt 6: 25 – 34
Like Advent, Lent is a time of preparation and anticipation. We prepare ourselves to once again bear witness to Jesus Crucifixion, and we prepare our hearts for the joy of Easter resurrection. One of our ways of preparing is with our most essential spiritual practice, praying.
That is why one of our themes for Lent is “Pray without Ceasing.” Prayer is one of our most important faith practices and sometimes it’s also the hardest one for us to do. So for Lent, we will be exploring many of the different ways we can pray and we will reflect on some of the things that get in the way of us praying.
Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life…” And there is one of our great emotional obstructions. Worry. Too much worrying can inhibit our ability to live more in the moment, to live with appreciation, and to live with joy.
Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life….Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them…consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin…how much more will God care for you?”
It’s easy to say, “do not worry…” but it seems that there is just so much to worry about these days. We worry about our finances, our savings, our college and retirement funds. We worry about looking for jobs and we worry about keeping our jobs. We worry about budget cuts in our towns, cities, and states.
We worry about the discord and chaos in our government especially with the animosity and chaos we are already seeing in this election year. We worry about who the next president will be and what it will mean for us as a people and as a country.
We worry about Isis, Syria, South Korea, the Saudis, Afghanistan…and our own backyard terrorists…
We worry about our health and well being. We worry about our medical coverage.
We worry about snow and ice dams, flooding and rain, and drought and heat waves. We worry about climate change. We worry about our kids, our parents, our families, our friends, and our neighbors.
We worry, worry, worry….
Pervasive worry can almost become a physical presence, entering and filling our whole body with darkness. Science has proven that stress and anxiety take a physical toll on us, it strains our hearts, disrupts our sleep, causes us to eat more, drink more, and medicate more. And worry just makes us worry more…..
Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life.”
So, let us consider the lilies of the field for a moment. Or better yet, a field full of lilies. Tall, bright orange Tiger lilies. Or, lemon yellow lilies glowing like splashes of sunlight strewn through the garden. Or luscious, white lilies that will soon fill our Sanctuary with the fragrant scent of Easter Resurrection.
There is a stand of bright, orange, tiger lilies, in my neighbors front yard. Those lilies spend their day straining to reach towards the sun. Each bell-shaped blossom, sitting atop a long, stout stem, follows the sun as it travels through the sky.
On cloudy days, the lilies heads droop a bit, melancholy and morose, waiting for the clouds to clear so the sun’s bright light can and lift them up again. I have seen lilies flattened by wind and rain, rise up again with the coming of the sun.So, consider the dedication of those tiger lilies in following God’s sun.
Consider the plucky urban flower that, against all odds, burrows a way through the minutest of cracks in the hardened concrete and pokes and pries its way out into the light of day. Consider the tenacity of the alpine flower, clinging to an inhospitable mountain side, drawn from the darkness, into the light.
A few years ago, we cleaned out our front beds and hauled the dirt and mulch into the woods behind our house. Apparently, I had missed a few of the tulip bulbs because out amongst the pines and skunk cabbage, there are several bright red tulips that each year herald the coming of spring. Consider the persistence of those tulips, displaced as they were, continuing to grow towards the light.
Jesus invites us to trust in God, to trust that God will provide for us. Jesus invites us to find peace in giving tomorrow AND today into God’s loving hands. Jesus invites us to let go and let God, to release what it is that would rob our lives of peace and joy. Jesus urges us to give it all back to God who gives us all we have in the first place.
Let us not just consider the lilies of the field, let us try to emulate them by focus ourselves on always straining towards the light of God’s beloved SON, and turning our lives to follow where ever God’s light leads us…having the tenacity to persevere against great odds, and persisting even when we find ourselves tossed into unfamiliar circumstances.
And, like the lilies….
Do not worry about tomorrow!
The gift of this day in God’s creation is treasure enough!