Don’t Worry Huh?
Matthew 6:24-34

I found a little irony in the subject of today’s text and the sermon that necessarily needed to be drawn from it.  Do Not Worry is the title given to this series of verses by the editors of the New Revised Standard Version of the bible.  All week I’ve been stressing about writing this sermon!  On Monday I read through the texts and prayed about them, knowing that Dave and Trina and the worship team were meeting Monday night to plan the Croydon service and they needed to know where I was headed so that they could plan things around the theme.  In the midst of that I was preparing for a funeral on Tuesday and wanting to make sure everything was in place for that.  Wednesday I again read through the texts and prayed again for inspiration and direction.  Then after spending the day chatting with people at Lilydale I had to prepare for our first faith stepping stones session.  Thursday was going to be the day, I was going to sit down and do the next phase of sermon preparation…but after spending the night going backwards and forwards with a very upset stomach and getting no sleep nothing happened, then Friday I was still feeling too poorly to concentrate on sermon writing.  The stress levels were starting to build.  Saturday I went to support a couple of Women’s Ice Hockey teams in their national league finals series and spent a fair bit of the time quietly stressing about writing this sermon and hoping everything else was in place for the services today.

AND I am supposed to be preaching “Do not worry”, have you ever heard the saying “Practice what you preach?”  It can be a pretty hard thing to do can’t it!  Why did I tell you all this, not for sympathy, or to encourage you to go easy on me if this sermon isn’t my best ever, but so that you know that we are all human, we all struggle to follow the will of God, especially when it comes to this instruction that Jesus gives in the sermon on the mount.

No matter how many times you set out to get this one right you generally run into trouble.  There are so many things going on in our lives that we very quickly discover that we are getting stressed about them.  Let’s make a list of the things that are worrying you today, car payments, interest rates, mortgages, health, kids, parents, spouses, jobs, bills, and of course the list goes on.  Now let’s consider what Jesus said, “Can any of you add a single hour to the span of your life by worrying?”  The answer is purely and simply no, it could actually mean that you shorten it by stressing yourself out so much.  So these are wise words to be taken seriously.

But there is a risk isn’t there, it’s sort of a concentric circle, maybe even a conundrum, if you decide that you are going to put a stop to all of this worrying, and then it isn’t going well, you add to your worries and concerns instead of making things better.  Even to consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the field makes it difficult, their lifestyles are much simpler than ours, we can easily say, well its easy for them, they have a lot less to worry about!

In order to begin to make a change to our worrying and stressing ways we have to shift our focus a little.  Have you ever noticed that when you start caring for others you start to focus a little less on what your needs are?  Have you stopped to pray for someone else instead of your own needs and discovered that some of yours get sorted out without you even trying?  This is the kind of thing that Jesus is talking about when he says that we should “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”

I’ve spent a great deal of time in the last twelve months or so worrying about money, I talk about money, I think about money and how we are going to do the things and pay for the things that we see as important, and yes of course I’ve prayed about them too.  But I still spent too much time focussed on the worrying.  I’m not sure when it was, and I think I may have even mentioned this in a sermon, but at some point in the last few months the focus thankfully shifted, I stopped worrying about it so much and allowed God to do his thing while I was more focussed on doing his work.  Then some investments that had been tied up were paid out, and somehow when the bills have fallen due we’ve been able to pay them.  I’m certainly less stressed and I think I am functioning better as a result.  As we heard in the gospel, “No one can serve two masters,” and it’s pretty easy to get sucked in to the wealth one, especially when living in an affluent neighbourhood and I’m sure I’m not Robinson Crusoe on this one. Once again this isn’t shared to bring attention to me but to let you know that we are all affected by worry and that spending the time with God dealing with them can make a huge difference.

When we stop worrying about ourselves and all of our needs we are in fact freed up for service to others, we are able to give more freely and show God’s love more willingly.  This is what’s known as Discipleship.  How liberating do you think it would be to be able to give of yourselves, time, money or possessions, without having to be concerned for your own future?   Wouldn’t that be great?  Remember the widow who gave everything she had?  That’s a tough example but a good one, she trusted in God to provide for her, in fact as a widow it is more than likely that God had been providing for her welfare through the help of others for quite some time.  She had been humbly accepting help from others and as a result was able to give also.

It’s extremely humbling to have to rely on others for your needs, yet Jesus gave us a great example of how to do it.  When the woman anointed him with the expensive perfume of pure nard he didn’t rebuke her as the others gathered around wanted him to, he used her as an example of devotion and humbly accepted her lavish gift.  It is easier to give a gift to someone else when you have been the recipient of some kind of gift yourself.  The woman had no idea of the size of the gift that Jesus would give her and all humanity in the days ahead, but she gave and we all received.

She was focussed perhaps unknowingly on the kingdom of God, and her needs were taken care of.  There is room for all of us to focus a little more on the kingdom of God and a little less on the things of this world, no matter who we are, but we all still have roles to play in supporting our families and supplying their needs, that too is our calling.  But when we slip into the worrying and stressing over it, and striving for more and more possessions we begin to spiral away from God and our true needs and the needs of others.

So I don’t want to leave you with a strict command DO NOT WORRY!  I simply want to encourage you to little by little allow a bit more God time into your schedules, hand some stuff over to him and ask for his help and guidance.  Take a look around, do you see anyone that needs help in some way, encouragement, care, prayer, love.  Do you need some yourself to help you ease your worries and stress, ask God to help you to allow others to be there for you in your time of need like the church has been for widows and orphans and the like for centuries.  Take the time to see where God is supplying you with your needs and give him thanks for it, and as we prepare again for the Lenten season, take some time to be with God and be refreshed and renewed through him.