Sunday, 26 February 2017

After Doris

Sunday Gospel - Matthew 6: 24-34
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money.
  ‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are we not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing? Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these. Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith? So do not worry; do not say, “What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?” It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’

All these weeks of Matthew have been a real challenge - verse after verse of Jesus telling us that things have to be different; life has to be different; we have to be different; that we may live in the world but we are not of the world.

And now - do not worry, life is hard enough. 

Unusually for my family, we had a half-term trip planned for last week. After negotiating a car drive worthy of a disaster movie, followed by a  missed flight, I guess we could be feeling a bit sorry for ourselves. However, we made the journey in one piece, had a great time, and are now back with a tale to tell about the day Storm Doris visited the UK.

 On our return we heard that, in our area, one hundred and forty trees fell the day Doris hit, not including branches and trees in gardens, brick walls fell onto rows of parked cars and trains were halted when the leaves on the line were still attached to their branches. I'm sure the emergency services took their lives in their hands many a time that day and we offer condolences to the woman who died, hit by an unknown object. The news was filled with the events of the day. 'Worry' was an active emotion for many, myself included, but who did it benefit?

Look at how the natural world reacts - the lilies lie deep in their winter cocoons, grey bark shrouds the trees that have stood, or not, this long winter. Yet, even now  the snowdrops that reveal their pearly heads almost overnight and the birds forage through the ashes of autumn leaves. Tiny wrens bounce through the frozen hedgerows whilst I cower in the warmth of my central heating and the blackbird finds his voice to welcome a sun hiding behind layers of deep violet grey February clouds. And I am amazed at where they get their stamina from.

The thought that 'it's not fair', 'it's too hard' or 'I can't' doesn't occur to them.
Where there is life there is - life.

How else should you acknowledge God's gift but to use it?  The life that you are given is not meant to be lived in despair and dissatisfaction; it is not meant to be worn away by ambition, avarice or anxiety. Jesus came so that we could live life to the full; finding purpose, joy and contentment through a life that feeds life in others and ourselves. Refusing to worry. 

Why should we have aspirations to a life of luxury; why do we expect it to be easy? If Jesus is prepared to live as he does, suffer as he does - why should be be different for us? The example of our Servant King tell us all we need to know. We have people to meet, places to be, deeds to do. This is a place of work - this is not our home.


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