Monday, May 26, 2008


I would like all of us today to use this time during worship to consider the priorities of our lives. Jesus tells us in the gospel lesson that we shouldn’t worry about food, clothes or tomorrow but that we should make the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness our priorities. Only you know where your priorities are but I can tell you honestly in these economic times I worry some about food, clothes, and tomorrow. It’s not that I don’t trust in God’s providence it’s that I don’t have a lot of faith in humanity to hold up its end and look out for their neighbors.
So how about it, are you worrying about tomorrow? Do you worry about where you’re going to get the next meal or if you’re going to have a clean set of clothes to put on in the morning? I’m not worrying about the food or the clothes but I do spend some time thinking about what tomorrow will be like.
After all that’s been in the news lately, especially all the weather related catastrophes that have occurred all over the world, an earthquake in China, a cyclone in Myanmar, and that humongous tornado in Colorado. Now those are things I do worry about some. But you know, there’s not one thing I can do to keep them from happening. I really do have to trust in God to provide the protection and the resources to rebuild if one of these weather events should happen to me.
The Prophet Isaiah told the people that after a period of time, in fact he said, “In the right time…,” he would bring his chosen ones back to their own country and restore everything back the way it was. And it goes right along with the gospel lesson, if we believe what we profess then we shouldn’t be worrying one minute about anything in our lives. Our minds should be filled with service issues. Who are we going to help next? What needs to be fixed now? Where do we need to go tomorrow to share the good news of God’s love for all people?
Did you hear what the psalmist said? Do you think our feet are on the ground? Do you think we are quietly waiting for God to show us and tell us what we should be doing? Or do you think we want to rule our own roost? Are we trying to control our destinies? And is that wrong?
I don’t think Jesus was saying that it is wrong to acquire wealth and possessions. But he was trying to get us to think about the why and the what of it. Why are we acquiring things and what are we going to do with the wealth we gain? And whose is it anyway?
What do you think would happen if everyone gave a certain percentage of their gross income to be used for the mission of the church? Every time that we received compensation for our work we would give a set percentage of the gross toward serving the mission of the church. Would we notice that we had fewer resources for food and clothes and rent or house payments? Would it make any difference to the amount of food that we put on our tables or the clothes that we wore? I wonder how many really trust enough in God to try it.
Priorities, where are our priorities? Jesus said we can’t serve two gods. Who are we serving, ourselves or God?
Paul told the Corinthians that what they should be concerned with was being a servant for Christ. They weren’t to be worrying about what anyone else was doing; they were to just be focused on the work they were called to by Christ.
I wonder what the world would be like if that were the norm. That we all looked out for each other and we made sure that there was absolutely no one who had any needs. Everyone everywhere had a roof over their head, clean clothes on their backs and nutritious food on their tables for every meal. What would that kind of world be like? Could we make that happen?
We can if we would change our priorities. But it won’t happen if all we think about is taking care of ourselves. As I’ve said before there is no early retirement from doing the work of the Lord. We are to make disciples, teach people, and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We are to love God and love our neighbors.
There are people in need all around us. Our priorities as the body of Christ are to care for those around us. The prophet Micah said, “…And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Paul says we should be servants, the prophet Isaiah is telling us to trust in God to make everything right again, and the psalmist tells us to wait patiently with hope. And Christ tells us we can’t serve two masters.
I believe in order to make that happen we have to set priorities. And I believe that those priorities are not about you and me but about everyone else. I believe that means that I need to be focused on everyone else’s needs, not mine. I believe that Jesus is telling us to wake up and change our priorities. He will take care of us and we are to take care of each other, without judging. Leave that to God.
Friends, it’s not easy trying to be like Jesus. I was visiting with a neighbor this week and we both expressed our concerns with the state of the world. We both decided that it’s too big for us and we couldn’t change it anyway. What we could do is look out for our neighbors and see to their needs. By doing those simple things we might be able to change the priorities of the world.
As we are taught in the scriptures, we are to be in the world but not of the world. Our priorities are different than the world’s priorities.
Life has always been tough. Today it’s the price of a gallon of gas, a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread and tomorrow it may be something else. Hope in the Lord will make the difference and help all of us to look at life a little differently, to change our priorities. Trust in the Lord my friends and he will make it all happen.
Someday it will all be made right. Someday Christ will return and there will be a new world, a new Jerusalem, a new heaven. What a wonderful day that will be. In the meantime our priorities must be to look out for our neighbors here in our community and in all parts of the world as God gives us the resources.
Priorities, what are yours and are they the same as God’s? I pray that God gives us hope for the future and that we are all able to turn our lives around and change our focus to serving God and our neighbors.
Thanks be to God for his abundant grace. Amen.

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