Let us pray: Dear Savior, tonight we have come to thank You and praise You. We thank You for food, clothing, house, family, health, wealth, and all those seemingly small things that we take for granted each day, but which make life here liveable and bearable. But perhaps even more importantly, we come tonight to praise You. We come to honor Your holy name and to sing of the joy and happiness You give to us. By Your love for us we have forgiveness and the certainty of eternal life. And because of that we really don’t have to live burdened by worry and fear over anything. So, tonight we praise You for giving us back the very best of what life has to offer. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT!
TEXT: Matthew 6: 25-33
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
After a year in which war casualties mount, terrorists continue to strike, the economic news and jobs remains sketchy, and even our marriages have been devalued by the Mass Supreme Court to include immoral behavior, you and I have reason to worry. And yet, worry, feeling helpless and hopeless, should not overwhelm us and undermine true thanksgiving. For as Christians we know that God is still in His heaven, He’s still in control of all things, and this godless, immoral world cannot pull us down to its level unless we let it.
During Christ’s life and later during St. Paul’s life, the “civilized” world was just as immoral and sinful as it is today. Paul’s antidote to such negativity was to focus on something better, on the “better angels” of our existence. Listen to his words written to the Philippians: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
This Thanksgiving I’m going to do exactly what St. Paul says. Indeed, I’m going to do exactly what Christ says in our text, which is:
When Jesus preached His sermon on the mount, He spoke to common, ordinary people. People who were short of food. People who struggled just to make their meager ends meet. People for whom jobs were scarce. People who were under the iron thumb of Rome. And what does He tell them? What “magic” words does He use to lift them up? “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
We know life is hard. We know life is all too short. So why, why add worry to the list thereby making our time of grace unhappy? Worry doesn’t change anything. It never makes the situation better or improves our mental, physical, or spiritual well-being. All worry does it tear down blessings and cause us to overlook them and to be unappreciative of them. For when you worry about what you don’t have, you’re too busy to be thankful for what you do have!
You and I are far more valuable to God than birds and animals. For God in the person of Christ didn’t lay down His life to save birds. No, He died for our sins to save us! And if He has invested His life in ours, surely the day-to-day stuff will never be lacking. For our God isn’t that small or impotent.
So, my original question remains for each of you: Why Worry? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or ‘What shall we drink? Or ‘What shall we wear?’ for the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
I grow lilies in my garden each year. And even though the lily beetles try to chew them up, the summer storms try to knock them down, and the dry conditions try to stunt their growth, they still are glorious to behold! Indeed, what human creation can rival a lily for color, form and fragrance? And then, after a month or so, they are gone, dried up and only a memory….But then, then, next year they will be resurrected once again!
The crowning achievement of God’s creation wasn’t lilies, grass, birds, or any other creature. The crowning glory was man. It was human beings like us. And “are you not much more valuable than they?” When we seek first God’s kingdom and His salvation for our souls in Christ, everything in life is put in its proper perspective. When we know that God truly is in control our worry over our lack of control melts away. For then we live in the moment with full appreciation of it because we know that that “moment” will last forever! How so? Well, doesn’t Christ death in our place and His resurrection make it so? Yes, as St. Paul says: “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
This Thanksgiving all of us should be, can be, and will be the most cheerful of people when we focus first on Christ’s gift of eternal joy. Armed with His eternal confidence we can take on each day knowing that in the end we’ll come out on top! Why? Because He has already fought and won all those battles we face—for us. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” My friends, don’t be a worry-wart! Instead, be a praise-wart. A thanksgiving-wart. And a confidence-wart. Leave worry to the pagans who live in darkness. While you and I live in the warm glow of His never-ending love. Amen