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Matthew 6:24-34 • February 27, 2011
Brothers and sisters in Christ grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus. Amen.
A man was seen fleeing down the hall of one of our local hospital this past week just before his operation. A security guard stopped him before he could get out of the hospital and asked, “What’s the matter? Where in the world are you going in such a hurry?”
The man said, “I heard the nurse say, ‘It’s a very simple operation, don’t worry, I’m sure it will be all right.’”
“She was just trying to comfort you,” said the security guard. “What’s so frightening about that?”
“She wasn’t talking to me,” exclaimed the man, “she was talking to the doctor!”
OK – if we were this guy, you may agree that his situation would cause some of us to worry just a little.
Last weekend, Pastor Tim challenged us to find a picture of someone who has been part of our life that is an example of faithfulness. I loved that request, because it was a pretty easy challenge for me. Almost immediately, I saw a picture of my grandmother.
My grandmother is a fantastic picture of faithfulness for me – but she is also the most extreme worrier I have ever known. As I worked through our text in Matthew this week, I spent a lot of time asking myself the question, “Is is possible to be a never ending worrier and be faithful?” In my grandma, my conclusion is a resounding yes.
Grandma has admitted several times that she will not sleep well for days before a doctor’s appointment or becomes nearly overwhelmed with worry when someone in the family is traveling. I’m guessing that it drove her crazy with worry when Wendy and I took our 9 year old girls on vacation to Mexico this past fall, although she never said anything about it to me directly.
One thing that she has said to me many times is that she believes that God is always with her. She believes very deeply in God’s right now promise of being with us and taking care of us. It may not lessen the things that she worries about, but by believing God is present with her in those things, she has been open to discovering the hope, love, and joy that flows out from her as of a follower of Jesus. Recently she has worried about making the transition out of her assisted living apartment. I think her faithfulness is revealing something new in this transition. Her worries about falling or caring for her apartment or keeping track of her medication or preparing a meal are no longer worries. Her faithfulness to God’s presence in her nearly 90 years of life, maybe most especially right now, today, is really quite beautiful.
Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber from the ELCA congregation House for All Sinners & Saints in Denver asks a wonderful question about this Matthew text. She asks, “Have we spent so much time and energy and ink telling the world about God’s promised future of heaven that we have failed to embody God’s right now promise of food and clothing?”
I would guess that many of us sitting in this worship space today, can relate to the statistics given by stress management experts who say that only two percent of our “worrying time” is spent on things that might actually be helped by worrying. The other 98% of our worrying time is spent on things that never happen, things that can’t be changed, things that turn out better than expected, or on useless petty worries.
Every once in a while I come across a poem, or reading, or piece of music that I like to share during our worship together. A few weeks ago I discovered a beautiful poem from Robert J. Burdette called “Two Golden Days” that I’d like to share – today.
“There are two days of the week upon which and about which I never worry. Two carefree days, kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension.
One of these is YESTERDAY.
Yesterday, with all its cares and frets, with all its pains and aches, all its faults, its mistakes and blunders, has passed away forever beyond the reach of my recall. I cannot undo an act that I wrought; I cannot unsay a word that I said yesterday.
All that it holds of my life, of wrongs and regret and sorrow, is in the hands of the Mighty God that can bring honey out of the rock and sweet waters out of the bitterest desert – the God of Love that can make the wrong things right, that can turn the weeping into laughter, that can give beauty for ashes, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, the joy of the morning for the woe of the night.
Save for the beautiful memories, sweet and tender, that linger like the perfumes of roses in the heart of the day that is gone, I have nothing to do with yesterday. It was mine; it is God’s.
And the other day I do not worry about is TOMORROW.
Tomorrow with all its possible adversities, its burdens, its perils, its large promise and poor performance, its failure and mistakes, is as far beyond the reach of my mastery as its dead sister, yesterday. It is a day of God’s. Its sun will rise in roseate splendor, or behind the mask of weeping clouds. But it will rise.
I have no possession in that unborn day of grace. All else is in the safe keeping of that Infinite God that holds for me the treasure of yesterday. His love is higher than the stars, wider than the skies, deeper than the seas. Tomorrow – It is God’s day. It will be mine.
There is left for myself then, but one day of the week – TODAY. With faith and trust in the Lord any man can fight the battles of today and any woman can carry the burdens of just one day.
O friend, it is only when to the burdens and cares of today carefully measured out to us by the Infinite Wisdom and Might that gives with them the promise, “As thy day so shall thy strength be,” we willingly add the burdens of those two awful eternities – yesterday and tomorrow – that we break down. It isn’t the experience of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse for something that happened yesterday, the dread of what tomorrow may disclose.
These are God’s days. Leave them with Him.
Therefore, I think, and I do, and I journey but one day at a time. That is the easy day. That is my day. Nay rather, that is our day – God’s and mine. And while faithfully and dutifully I run the course, and work my appointed task on that day of ours, God the Almighty and the All-loving takes care of yesterday and tomorrow.”
For many years now, my conversations with my grandmother end like this. She says to me, “Pray for me.” And I say to her, “I will, but I hope you are praying for me too.”
I don’t pray that one day she will be able to be as active again as she was when she was 30 years old, but I do pray that she feels God’s presence no matter how active she is able to be – today.
I do pray that she knows God is clothing her and feeding her through those who surround her and care for her like her family and the staff in her new home – today.
I do pray that this beautiful child of God never stops believing that God is with her – today.
My grandmother is a worrier about more things and in more ways than anyone I have ever or probably will ever know. She is also an amazing witness of faithfulness. Faithfulness that you and I share as followers of the risen Jesus Christ, who reminds us once again on this day that God was with us yesterday, will be with us tomorrow, and is with us today – right now. Amen.