In the Holy Gospel, Christ does not follow the kind of approach we might expect. Often, Christ preached, “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near!” He would present the unyielding law in its hardness, seek to awaken sorrow for sin, and give the sweet Gospel to those who hungered for it.
We might expect that approach in this context. Christ addresses the sin of worry and anxiousness. This is a violation contrary to the First Commandment. Worry and anxiety go against the trust that we should have in God.
So Christ might have convicted the disciples of this sin, and where repentance followed, assured them of forgiveness.
But instead Christ gives an interesting display of gentleness. He asks some ridiculously humorous questions in order to entice trust in the disciples. He coaxes a right attitude from them by showing them the love of the Father.
Consider the silliness of Christ’s illustrations. Imagine flowers sitting at sewing machines, making clothing for themselves. That is so ludicrously contrary to experience that we can imagine the disciples laughing out loud at what their Lord said. Through gentle humor, Christ brings home His point: “If the flowers, that do not sew or knit or spin, are clothed beautifully by your Father in heaven, why do you worry? The flowers are here today and gone tomorrow. The lawn mower cuts them down in an instant. So how much more will your Father in heaven make sure that you are clothed?”
There is no reason to worry.
Imagine birds driving tractors and combines. Of course, they are so small that you will only see their beaks and beady eyes poking above the steering wheel. Of course that is contrary to experience because birds do not need to drive farm equipment. They go looking for bugs and plants and seeds to eat. They simply search for the food that God provides for them.
But if it is silly to think of a sparrow driving a tractor, then it is even more ridiculous to think that your Father will not take care of you.
There is no reason to be anxious.
Nowadays, there is anxiety and worry on all sides. There is increased hopelessness, suicide, and substance abuse in our country and others. We should not think this is all on one side, as if only certain groups of people are affected by the different forms of danger and unrest in the world. We are all influenced, some more directly, others less. We all feel the strain, the pressure, if not the outright fear.
Yet in the midst of this chaotic and uncertain world, the Father has done so much. There is still food on our tables. There is still clothing on our backs. For many in this nation, it has become increasingly difficult with decreased employment. But God has also restored many more jobs than most people thought possible. The Lord continues to send out blessings, sometimes through people and charities who help others in need.
Some things have been lacking. But were those really necessities? Often we have confused needs with wants. Even when God removes what we need, it is only for a time, and He restores us again. As the little birds might have to work harder to find food in winter and be hungry more often, still the spring comes when abundance returns.
Even more, through His Son the Father has clothed us more gloriously than any flower. For as many of you as are Baptized are clothed with Christ. As for feeding, what does the greatest earthly feast compare with the Food of Immortality we eat on this Altar? All this He gives us freely, without toiling or spinning, nor sowing, reaping, or gathering. No cost, no work, and He lavishes us with eternal gifts beyond imagination.
Because this Father is so generous toward us His children, why would we ever serve Mammon? We often do this without realizing it when we are worried and anxious about our earthly needs. But money and greed and putting our trust in earthly gain, even if it is only worrying about where clothing and food will come from, will only drain our energy and time and enthusiasm and joy.
You know your Father’s heart toward you. He wants to give and love and provide. Although sometimes we must live with less or not have what we want (in our twisted system of priorities), He always gives enough.
And a time comes for us all when there is not enough, and our body grows weak, and we lay down our heads one last time. Even then, the Father has given enough, since He determines when the right time comes for us to depart this present life.
Later He will give even more, with the abundance of eternal glory and a restored creation. There the word “enough” will have no meaning. There worry and anxiety will become dim memories, and we will have to struggle to remember what it was like to fear the future. Then the Father, through His Son, will have provided everything with perfection and finality.
Until that time, the Father grant us grace to give thanks even in times of difficulty
Paul Gerhardt, one of our fathers in Lutheran hymnody, wrote - “Entrust your days and burdens To God’s most loving hand; He cares for you while ruling The sky, the sea, the land. For He who guides the tempests Along their thunderous ways Will find for you a pathway And guide you all your days.
“Rely on God your Savior And find your life secure. Make His work your foundation That your work may endure. No anxious thought, no worry, No self-tormenting care Can win your Father’s favor; His heart is moved by prayer.
“Take heart, have hope, my spirit, And do not be dismayed; God helps in every trial And makes you unafraid. Await His time with patience Through darkest hours of night Until the sun you hoped for Delights your eager sight.”
God keep us in this trusting, fearless faith to all eternity. Amen.
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