Monday, October 4, 2021

Looking Ahead to October 10, 2021 -- Thanksgiving Sunday

 The Scripture Readings this week are:

  • Psalm 126
  • Matthew 6:19-34

The Sermon title is What, Me Worry?

Early Thoughts: I am a worrier. I have been a worrier for as long as I can remember. I can always find something to worry about in any situation. I might call it my superpower except...well it doesn't seem like much of a power.

So what do I do with a Jesus who tells me not to worry?

Certainly I have been blessed enough that my worries have never been about where my next meal will come from, or next month's rent, or having nothing to wear. But still I am a worrier. I can always see the worst possible outcome (even if I know that said outcome is not very likely) and worry about it. While I can often make myself see the positive possibilities I naturally find the catastrophic possibilities.

So what do I do with a Jesus who tells me not to worry?

This is a bit of an odd choice for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the gifts we have been given. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate that harvest has been safely gathered in (and with a mix of rain and snow in the forecast for this week I do hope many of the fields have been taken in by now). Why would we talk about worries? The Psalm reading makes much more sense for Thanksgiving than a passage with warnings about storing up treasures, and watching where our heart lies, and worrying too much. [As a side note, on this week when we read the psalm which includes verse 6 about coming home joyfully carrying the sheaves we are indeed going to sing Bringing in the Sheaves]

Then again, what keeps us from being thankful? One thing is when we are feeling threatened, that we don't have enough, that we are not safe, that we have to store us extra "just in case". Worry keeps us from being thankful. Worry can keep us from seeing what we have to be thankful for. (Side note, I wonder if this is why I have such trouble when I try to post one note of gratitude every day in October -- apart from my remembering to do it that is.)

SO what do we do with our worry?

Is this a matter of trust? Our United Church Creed has the line "We Trust in God" at almost the exact center of the poem. I wrote about that last week. If we are able to trust, to life in trust does that take away some of our worry? Jesus seems to suggest that it does in these verses from Matthew's Gospel.

Is this a matter of redefining "enough"? Do we need to see what we have with eyes that see abundance and not listen to the voice yelling about scarcity? I think that is a big thing. It is one reason why probably my favourite song from the movie White Christmas is "Count Your Blessings". I have been pondering how verse 22 of the Matthew passage might tie in to the rest of the passage for a Thanksgiving sermon. Maybe this is how. What we see shapes what we believe (and vice versa). What we see shapes how we act. We need to see the world differently if we want to cut down on our worrying.

Is it a matter of changing where we look? I have a hunch that for myself a good way to cut back on my worry is to stop following media (especially social media) too closely. Taking a pause to walk the labyrinth, or wander through Muskoseepi, or simply to pray or meditate, might be a real antidote to increasing worry and anxiety. They are things that change the focus, that push me into a different mindset. Maybe that is part of the equation?

There is a lot to worry about in this life. Over 18 months into a pandemic many of us have found our worry and anxiety steadily increasing for a long time now. But still Jesus encourages us not to worry. I really think that less worry and anxiety in life is the healthier choice.

If only I could know how exactly to get there...

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