“Do Not Worry”
July 18, 2017
A Devotion for the Council at St. Luke’s Logan Square
Based on Matthew 6:24-34
By Bishop Wayne Miller
For some odd reason, it occurred to me this afternoon that a good topic of my devotion this evening would be “Worry.”
In a way, of course, I’m not sure if any of us really need to have guided reflection about WORRY. I mean most of you probably have enough experience with it to write your own devotion on the subject, if not a complete book. Even for those of us who are not perceived as worriers, I have a hunch, that WORRY is more of a regular companion that we might want to admit.
When you wake up in the morning obsessing about the difficult meeting on your calendar or rehearsing the speech you will have to deliver to the employee you are about to lay off… Worry is there, standing beside you in the shower.
When it’s the sixteenth of the month and yesterday’s paycheck is already spent, and you can’t quite figure out how to manage the cash flow to cover all the month left over at the end of the money… Worry is there, grinning at you from between the lines in your check register.
When your kids are in trouble at school and you start to wonder if this is just the beginning of a life full of bad choices and irresponsible decisions that will make their prospects of happiness dim and their dependency upon you permanent… Worry is there, playing you a videotape of your entire career as a parent.
When you lay there during the wee small hours, in the darkness of your room, too tired to get up but too awake to sleep…Worry is there, quietly painting a full color portrait of all your bitter regrets and all your paralyzing fears.
No, for all its many and various faces, Worry is a companion that almost all of us know and instantly recognize. So I’m not sure whether you either want or need another reflection on the subject.
But there is at least one dimension of Worry that I think we often overlook and that might be important to remember; namely, that Worry is the first and greatest time machine.
I say that because, whatever else it may do, Worry always transports our hearts, our minds, and our energy, either to a time back there that will never return… or to a time up there that we can never quite reach… and so, Worry becomes a thief… stealing us away from the one time we really do have, and leaving us powerless to do much of anything… except to worry.
I think Jesus understood this quality of worry, because he regularly warned his disciples of its looming presence. And he certainly didn’t do this because they didn’t have anything to worry about. They had no jobs, for goodness sakes. They had long since left their homes, their families and their careers behind. And up ahead were the jealousy, the violence, the injustice. But they did have NOW at their finger tips…They still had the ability to notice and to respond to what was in them and around them and lying there in front of them in the road…and in that NOW they had the power and the freedom to call the Kingdom of God into being… if they could just stay there long enough to grab hold of it. So Jesus set an example before them… the example of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, because, of course, if you had the ability to ask a bird or a flower what time it is, the answer would always be the same: “The time is now,” they would say. “What other time could it be?”
We are here together tonight to discuss the beginning of a time that could be a time of worry in the life of St. Luke… which is actually nothing new in the history of this ministry…even in the last decade. When I came into the bishop’s office in 2007, it would not be an exaggeration to say that a whole lot of people still saw this as a ministry with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.
And then just a short time ago there was this little decision to walk away from your building into “who knows what?” in the future.
But in both cases, the people who gathered under the banner of St. Luke chose not to be paralyzed either by attachment to the past or dread of the future, but chose instead to embrace the challenges, the doubts and the mission opportunities of what was before you right now… and to embrace that “now” with courage, and with energy, and with faith.
So I think that my job here tonight, more than anything else, is to remind you of what you already know and to remind you of who you are. Because even though there may still be enough trouble to keep you busy for today, simply by seeking the kingdom of God and its righteousness, now, you also carry the promise that God’s will will be done here on earth as in heaven.