Worries! - Pastor Sam Buehrer - Sylvania UCC - Nov182018

November 18, 2018


Sermon               “Worries”                        November 18, 2018

by Samuel Buehrer

Joel 2:21-27

21Do not fear, O soil; be glad and rejoice, for the Lord has done great things! 22Do not fear, you animals of the field, for the pastures of the wilderness are green; the tree bears its fruit, the fig tree and vine give their full yield. 23O children of Zion, be glad and rejoice in the Lord your God; for he has given the early rain for your vindication, he has poured down for you abundant rain, the early and the later rain, as before. 24The threshing floors shall be full of grain, the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. 25I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent against you. 26You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame. 27You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame.

Matthew 6:24-34

24“No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

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? 26Look 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? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30But 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? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But 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.

 

 

 

 

Sermon                                    “Worries”                       November 18, 2018

by Samuel Buehrer

 

Some years ago, a colleague of mine told the story of a parishioner of his who had just celebrated her 104th birthday.  He shared that the family decided to throw a big birthday party for her since she was still in good health and able to enjoy the party.  On the day of the celebration, with all of the family gathered around her, one of her granddaughters (who had just turned 60 herself) turned to her grandmother and asked if she had any words of wisdom to share with her family since she has lived such a long and good life.  Almost without hesitation, the woman responded that now that she has reached 104 years of age she is ready to die.  The granddaughter was shocked to hear her say this for her grandmother was always a positive person and one who approached life with optimism.  She said to her grandma, “Why would you say such a thing?”  The grandmother responded.  “I can die in peace now.  I have no more worries.  My four children are now all safe and living in nursing homes.”

Anyone who has children knows that no matter what age they are, that as long as you are a parent that you will tend to worry about your children.  But for many of us, our children are not our only worries.  For some of us, it is our health that causes us to worry.  For others it might be their work that causes them their greatest stress.  Still others stress out about the politics in which we find ourselves at this time.  It seems that there is a never ending list of things about which to worry. 

If you are one who is prone to worry, Jesus has some wisdom to share with you.  But I will be honest, this wisdom is hard to hear for a person who tends to experience a lot of anxiety in life.  The wisdom that Jesus is sharing comes from a very deep understanding of what it means to trust in God.  There is a wonderful Hasidic legend that speaks to this inability to grasp this wisdom. The legend says that when God created human beings, the angels were jealous because God had endowed the humans with divine wisdom that would guide them through life.  So the jealous angels conspired to hide this gift from the humans.  “Let’s take it to the peak of the highest mountain,” said one.  “No,” said another, “Let’s bury it at the bottom of the deepest sea.” But the smartest angel of all said, “Let’s hide dive wisdom deep inside each person.  It’s the last place they’ll ever look.”

The challenge for each of us is to take the time to look deep within ourselves for the divine wisdom that is hidden but waiting to be revealed.  Sometimes I think that the divine wisdom is revealed when we are able to take time to adjust how we perceive the world.  For how we see the world has a huge impact on how we experience the world. 

There is a story of a 92 year old woman, who woke one day, showered and dressed herself in one of her classier outfits, applied her makeup and proceeded to prepare to make the move from her home into an assisted living unit.  Her husband of 70 years had recently passed away making the move necessary.  After waiting patiently, she smiled sweetly when told that her room was ready.  As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, her escort provided a visual description of her small room, including the eyelet sheet that had been hung on her window. 

“I love it,” she stated, with the enthusiasm of an 8 year-old who had just received a new puppy. 

“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room, just wait,” said the attendant.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied.  “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.  How the room is arranged has nothing to do with  whether or not I will like it….it’s how I have arranged my mind.  I have already decided to love it!”

She went on to share, “Each morning when I wake up, I choose to be positive and work with what I have, not dwell on what I have lost.  As long as eyes open, I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away just for this time in my life.”1

Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote a children’s book called The Present that also gets at the wisdom that Jesus is speaking about in the passage for today.  The Present is a story of a little boy and an old man.  The little boy is riding his bicycle, the old man is sitting in a swing on a front porch.  The old man’s countenance attracts the little boy's attention. 

For several days, the little boy rides his bicycle past the porch of the old man and each day he sees the old man sitting with a big smile on his porch swing.  After riding by for several days, the boy turns his bicycle around and calls out to the old man. He says, "Old man, why are you so happy?" 

And the old man smiles and says, "It's because I have the present."

"Wow!" said the little boy.  "I love presents.  Christmas presents.  Birthday presents.  All kinds of presents.  Any time.  How can I get this present?" 

"Well, you really already have it."  

"I already have it?" said the little boy.  "I don't have any presents." 

"Yes, you already have it.”

As the little boy becomes a teenager, he and the old man became friends.  The old man watched him play baseball.  He watched him play football.  Eventually as a teenager, the young man asks,  "Old man, what about this present you have always talked about?"

"The present is the greatest gift you can ever have." 

"But I want this present.  I want you to give me this present." 

"I can't give you the present.  You have the present all by yourself, and once you have the present, everything else falls into perspective…. once you have the present, you're content to be right where you are."

The young man goes off to college,  After graduation, he goes back to visit old man and says, "I think I finally got it.  The present is right now, right?  It's not a gift or anything."

The old man says, "Yes, you're right.  It's right now.  It's enjoying the moment now… It's being in the present."

Years later the old man died.  The now middle-aged man returned to the funeral to discover that from the wealthiest to the poorest, there were many in attendance at the funeral.  The old man had befriended a lot of people along the way. 

After the funeral, the man went back to the old man's house, which now was vacant.  The swing was still on the porch.   He sat on the swing and began to swing back and forth, and thought, "Wow, that man's life was so purposeful; it was so meaningful." 

After these many years, the neighborhood had changed.  There was a new family with a little six year-old living in old house where he grew up.  She was on her tricycle and she was riding by.  And as she went by, she looked up at the man sitting in the swing, and she said, "Wow!  Old man."

He turned and looked and said, "Yes?" 

She said, "You look so happy!  Why are you so happy?" 

And he said, "Oh golly, it's because I have the present." 

She said.  "I love presents.  Christmas presents and birthday presents and all kinds of presents.  Can you help me get that present?" 2

The divine wisdom of Jesus suggests that if we can truly live in the present, then those things that worry us will just melt away.  For in the present, God has given us all that we need. Once we realize this, there is no need to worry.  When this happens, then we can begin to live a life free of worry and full of thanksgiving.

 

1“Deposit a lot of happiness,” Just Between Us, Summer 2009, 6

2Spencer Johnson M.D., The Present: The Gift for Changing Times. 2010

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