Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's Bothering You Today?

We’ve just heard the prophet Haggai giving God’s message to the people of Jerusalem who were worried that the temple they were rebuilding wasn’t as good as the original. We heard Paul writing to calm the troubled people in Thessalonica who had been convinced by someone who purported to be Paul that the Day of the Lord was here now. And in Luke’s gospel we’ve heard the Sadducees trying to trip Jesus up with a scenario about a widow who ended up being married to 7 brothers before she died. Whose wife would she be in the afterlife? Granted they weren’t really concerned about that because they didn’t believe in an afterlife. They were just trying to make Jesus look like a fool. Or maybe they did have questions about what happened after they died.

In all three readings we have heard about folks who were bothered by things. So, what’s bothering us today? What questions are we carrying around today that have become burdens for us?

Some of us may be concerned about our church building. Maybe it doesn’t look as spiffy as it used to back in the old days. Some of us are probably concerned about our shrinking membership or the attendance at worship. And some of us are wondering about our own demise and what’s waiting for us on the other side. Many of us are concerned about what’s happening in the world all around us, the financial health of our country, unemployment, the price of energy, the wars in the Middle East, and global warming. We’re bothered by many of these things and much more. As if we could do anything about any of it anyway.

We, all of us, worry and fuss about everything. Friends, is that why we’re here, to worry about things? Will our worry and anxiousness make any difference? Will it change anything and make it better? If it doesn’t or won’t then why do we worry?

Have we lost all hope? Have we given up on God? It certainly sounds as if we aren’t to certain about those who are in leadership positions in our government. We aren’t too hopeful about our retirement or whatever follows.

We are bothered by many things. I ask you in what do you put your hope, in what do you trust? What did God tell Haggai to tell the people?

He said, “I own the silver. I own the gold.” “Get to work. I am with you.” “I’m living and breathing among you right now. Don’t be timid. Don’t hold back.” Were those words just for those living then or are they a Message for us today?

If we believe that this is the living word of God then surely He can speak to us from his word as it is read to us.

We all worry but not one of us can add a single day to our time here on earth by worrying. In fact, our worrying may very well shorten lives. We go from day to day acting like everything is all about us. It’s not you know. We think we’re in control of our lives and maybe the lives of others and we’re not, really. We just like to think so.

Instead of worrying and fretting about the state of the world and our lives what should occupy our thoughts? My answer is going to begin sounding like a broken record but I’m going to say it anyway.

In the gospels Jesus said that there were only two commandments that should really concern us. They were to love God with our whole being, mind, body, and soul and to love our neighbors as much as we loved ourselves. And then just before he ascended into heaven he instructed his apostles to go out into all the world and make disciples of all people everywhere and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

That’s it. That’s what we should be doing. Nothing else should be allowed to take up space in our minds. If we would spend our time loving God and loving our neighbors then everything else would fall into place. There would be no question about how much we should give to the church or to the presbytery or to the Food Pantry or to Haiti or Pakistan or Indonesia.

Everything we are, everything we think we own, everything is God’s. We are just the caretakers of his resources. And not one piece of our beloved possessions will be able to go with us to the other side. Everything is up to God.

So, good friends, my message to you today is don’t let yourselves be bothered. God is in control. He has the plan. All we are asked to do is trust and believe and love God and neighbors. That’s it. It’s really pretty simple. Why do we all have to make it so difficult?

All we have to remember is that our …“God isn’t a God of dead men, but of the living. To him all are alive.” Luke 20:38 The Message

Isn’t that a great answer? Isn’t that the Good News? God is alive and he dwells within us. Thanks be to God for his patient, loving grace. Amen.

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