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Today is Enough

Matthew 6:25-34
“Today Is Enough”
Kate Fiedler
October 27, 2019

 

Prayer of Illumination

Loving God, you know us through and through.

Hold our attention to hear your word.

Let your ancient story of love live in us today.

As the Holy Spirit inspires our hearts, lead us to create your beloved community, where all thrive without fear. Amen.

 

 

Jesus is talking to the crowds, in the middle of his Sermon on the Mount.  In this context, when he refers to the Gentiles, Jesus is talking about those who are non-believers.

 

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I close my eyes, I can see it all happening.  I see Jesus, finding his rhythm, in the middle of teaching the crowds on the hillside.  A slight breeze, wafting through the robes and over tufts of grass. Families and friends sitting together in small groups, enraptured by the words and images of this teacher, this healer.  As Jesus encouraged the people there that day not to be consumed with worry, he looked in their eyes, and he understood.

 

He understood that a young girl, sitting off to herself, was worried about getting bullied again in the marketplace.  He had compassion for the elderly man to his right, who was worried about his failing eyesight, and what that would mean for his carpentry work, for providing for his family.  Jesus observed the mother glancing at her teenage daughter, as her eyes started to pool at the corners, watching her oldest child. Jesus watched the worry lines crease on the forehead of the lawyer, as he questioned the consequences of this teacher changing the interpretation of the law.  He saw the refugee dad, extend his arm around his wife and stretch to touch his children, worried about where they would find rest that night.  He noticed the anxiety the crowds carried; he sensed the worry weighing down on the people as they listened.

 

Jesus had compassion for the concerns and troubles of the people in the crowd.  He wasn’t attempting to dismiss or explain away their worries about what they would eat or wear.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus points to a new way of understanding, a new perspective on life.  He uses the natural world as an example of God’s handiwork.  God’s righteousness is displayed right before them:  just as the birds fly freely and find their food.  As the wildflowers and lilies grow without tending, God’s provision is evident.  Jesus understood the people listening had reason to worry.  And he teaches his followers to replace their worries with trust in God.  Trust in grace that is unseen and unearned.  Trust that the same God who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, the same God who stayed faithful during the exile, the same God who sent prophets and apostles to lead them, is the same God who will provide for their needs, the same God who feeds the birds and adorns open fields with wildflowers.

 

Jesus understood that life offers reasons to worry.  He wasn’t immune to the complications and challenges that faced other families.  And yet, Jesus knew that living out of fear and worry is not a way to live fully.  You can’t flourish when you are weighed down with anxiety.  So the Redeemer, our Savior, teaches us to replace our fear with trust.  We learn about trusting in a loving God through the stories of the Bible.  We learn to trust in the one who claims us in the waters of baptism before we can even speak a word. To trust in the one who provides for the birds and the lilies. To trust in the one who holds fast to us.  Pastor Steve Eason writes, “[Trust] is based upon past experience. We look back for trust in moving ahead.”[1]

 

As followers of Christ, we have the stories of the Bible that describe how “God provides in the midst of scarcity, crisis, failure, and despair.”[2]  We look to the passages when God makes a way out or a way through, when angels appear in the skies or at the tomb proclaiming, “Do not be afraid,” for God is present.  And, we look to each other for times when we have found courage in the midst of fear and worry.  We have our own stories of how God has shown up through kindness and grace, with a hand-written message of thanks, a voicemail from a friend checking in, a fresh-baked loaf of pumpkin bread, or a thoughtful helping hand at the grocery store.  When we find ourselves mired in anxiety, we can rely on each other to offer support, presence, and reason to trust.

 

Today is Reformation Sunday, when we remember when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg.  Luther posted his list of questions and proposals with the hope of changing the church for the better, of transforming the practice of indulgences.  He did not intend to start a movement; he did not foresee that a new church would emerge.  Luther did not expect that he would inspire other church leaders to create a new path of belonging to the body of Christ.

 

John Calvin, a French refugee living in Geneva, also left the Catholic Church, to create a reformed church for religious refugees.  His theology and teaching echo in today’s passage.

Calvin’s emphasis on placing our full trust in God aims to infuse every aspect of our life with gratitude and faith. … He believed that as we grow in trust of God and love for God, we [expand] our ability to respond with the totality of our lives to God’s call to love and service.[3]

 

Calvin stressed the sovereignty and steadfast nature of God, teaching that the more we understand and love God, then our love for one another will also increase.  When we strive to live according to God’s will, according to God’s ways, then the details in our lives, like what we eat or what we wear, will not hold us back from living more fully.  Seeking the kingdom of God, following God’s call to love and service, is the key to replacing our worry and fear with trust and hope.

Jesus does not expect us to trust on our own.  God’s providence is interwoven throughout all creation.  The creator intended for humanity to work collectively, to protect the earth and each other from harm and loss. Stephen Boyd affirms, “[The] righteousness of God—and the provision of what we and others need for our flourishing are two sides of the same coin.”[4] We need each other.  As God’s beloved community, our lives are bound to one another.

 

A few weeks ago, I attended the Co-Inspire conference at Montreat, focusing on eviscerating racism in the church.  During closing worship, I experienced God’s beloved community form and flow around the communion table.  Before the liturgy began, representatives of groups who had been marginalized by the church and kept from the table of grace were called up to surround the table.[5]  The table was filled by the beloved community:  transgender people, people of Japanese descent (since the site of the conference was used to hold Japanese people during World War 2[6]), indigenous people, disabled people, gay people, elderly people, and black men.  It was a powerful moment.  The oppression these groups have experienced by the church was recognized, and in that moment their full inclusion was celebrated.  We spent most of the conference struggling with the worries and concerns of injustice in the church and in our culture.  Yet, at that moment, God’s love and righteousness took center stage.  We shared the bread and the cup as the family of God, living into the church God is seeking where all God’s people are celebrated and affirmed.

 

That’s the world God intends.  That’s the vision Jesus describes to the crowd.  A world where God’s love and justice are the foundation of who we are and how we treat each other.  A world where our worries are known, and our needs are met.  We can do our part to live in God’s love, just for today.  With God’s help, today is enough.

[1] Eason, Steven P. “Matthew 6:24-34:  Pastoral Perspective.” Feasting on the WordYear A, Volume 3. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, General Editors. Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2011. 72.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Hessel, Beth Shalom. “Celebrating 500 years of Protestantism:  The meaning of the Reformation today.” Presbyterians Today. October/November 2017. 43.

[4] Boyd, Stephen B. “Matthew 6:24-34:  Theological Perspective.” Feasting on the WordYear A, Volume 3. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, General Editors. Louisville:  Westminster John Knox Press, 2011. 72.

[5] Inspired to share after reading the Facebook post “Storytime” by Laura Cheiftez, October 12, 2019.

[6] http://www.phcmontreat.org/montreat-wwii.html

 

Kate Fiedler , Associate Pastor for Adult Ministries

Email: kate@upcch.org

Phone: (919) 929.2102 ext. 130

Bio:

Kate joined the staff in November of 2014 as the Associate Pastor for Adult Ministries. She focuses her energy on strengthening the adult education program, coordinating congregational life events, and extending warm hospitality to new members. Kate grew up in Virginia and North Carolina, and she has moved back and forth across the state line seven times. She is a graduate of Davidson College and Union Presbyterian Seminary. Before arriving in Chapel Hill, Kate served as the Associate Chaplain at Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte–teaching third through eighth graders–and then as the Director of Admissions at Union Presbyterian Seminary. Kate enjoys road trips, live music, reading, exploring new restaurants, and cheering on her favorite sports teams: the Bears, the Cubs, and the Tar Heels.