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Sunday Summary

The Sower

The-Sower

Here is the reflection for Sunday the 23rd of August.

There’s not much to add by way of introduction as I have explained the nature of the content in the podcast itself. Suffice it to say that it revolves around the funeral service I led for a dear friend, Dennis Pilkey, on Saturday.

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Sunday Summary

Freedom

Freedom

Sunday’s reflection for August 16th has the theme of Freedom. The scripture that forms the foundation is from 1 Corinthians and reads as follows.

 “I have the right to do anything,” but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

1 Corinthians 10: 23-24

The thrust of Paul’s message is that although we can claim to be free in our faith and not be restricted in our lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that we should feel free to do whatever we might want. We live in community with each other and should live so as not to do anything that might bring harm to others.

There’s so much rhetoric in the States right now from those who feel that wearing a mask infringes on individual freedoms. It was an interview with a young man claiming it as his right to not wear a mask that got me looking into Paul’s words.

I trust a focus on this passage will give us opportunity to reflect on how our actions can impact others.

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

Christmas In July

Christmas-in-July

First of all, I need to give credit to Marie Elliott for the subject of this reflection. In her recent financial report, she concluded by reminding us that there are only five months until Christmas.

This is one of the weeks when we aren’t having a worship service at the church. Were we getting together, I’m sure I would have led another “Christmas In July” service. We have done it in years past on the Sunday in July closest to the 25th. Marilyn Schmiedel roots out our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree and Lois gets ready to play some of the Christmas Carols that dominate our Advent and Christmas Eve services.

Christmas is a season of hope and optimism. Perhaps we should be celebrating Christmas every month closest to the 25th until we can say that the virus is past.

How can we not love the story told in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels? Starting with Elizabeth and Zechariah, the priest who is struck dumb because he asks the wrong questions. Ending then with Wise men who venture from the East, initially thinking that Herod is someone to be trusted and then discovering otherwise. After they enrich the young family with significant gifts, they choose to sneak out of town by a back way rather than have to deal with the evil that is in Herod’s heart.

We can’t forget the shepherds, given front row seats to a celestial choir and being the first to see the baby in the manger outside of some midwives and Mary and Joseph themselves. All of these events are like the additional acts in a Shakespearean play. They add depth to the story, but they are there only to support the main character in the play and that is Mary.

Here we have a young woman of 13 or 15 years of age, biologically ready for marriage who has the most unique experience of being visited by an angel who identifies himself as Gabriel, of whom Hebrew Scripture acknowledge as being in the upper hierarchy of the angelic host.

The news he has for Mary is rather unsettling. She will have a baby and her child will be the promised Messiah whose kingdom will last forever. Mary is forward enough to question this plan for her life as she and Joseph aren’t yet married so this sounds rather far-fetched. (that last part of her question is my own speculation). Unlike with Zechariah, Gabriel is a little more patient with Mary and gives her answers meant to encourage her, and it works. Mary says whatever will be will be. Whatever God has in store for me. I’m okay with it.

Then there’s a final statement in Luke 1: 38 that I have overlooked before. The meeting ends with “Then the angel departed from her”. Hang on…Isn’t he going to hang around and be with Mary when she tries to explain this to her parents? Why doesn’t he accompany her to the well when she joins the other young women getting water? Why doesn’t he clue them all in, amazing them with his power when they look at Mary and say,” No way girl. What have you been drinking?”

“The angel departed from her”. It’s God’s understanding that she has the strength to handle whatever she has to deal with in this most unusual story of what is to become her life.

When the child grows and matures and begins doing the work of Messiah, Jesus is continually telling us that we can handle whatever comes our way. And we aren’t to try and deal with life under our own power. God is with us through whatever.

In what we refer to as His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6, Jesus tells us to quit fretting about the difficulties we may face in life because “It’s no good worrying about tomorrow because each tomorrow can contain a whole new set of worries.” Instead, trust that God knows what we need and will support us in the pains we may be called to deal with.

He suggested we never forget to share with God the concerns and questions we may have. In Matthew 7: 7-11 he says we should be people who ask, seek and figuratively knock, knock, knock on heaven’s door (I think there’s a song in there somewhere).

It’s good psychology. Talking with God in prayer beats talking ourselves into a state of anxiety.

And there is definitely a lot of anxiety in our world at the moment. I’ve had to pull myself away from watching CNN as much as I would like. This on the instructions from Pam. There’s not a lot of good news. From government dysfunction, to the upward spiraling numbers of the Covid-19 virus along with our concerns about how or even whether our children or grandchildren should be going back to school.

Last but probably least of our worries is watching the Jays play in the States without any fans in the stands as the manager comes out to replace the pitcher in a face mask.

Everything seems upside down at the moment. 

At the end of Jesus time with us, He promised that those who followed Him would be supported by His Spirit, continuing to help and guide and lead us through any difficulties. I think we would agree that Covid-19 is more than a difficulty. It’s a danger to our physical health and our mental health so don’t deal with it alone.

Then there’s the sound advice to reach out for help from others should your experience of dealing with the epidemic be too much for you to handle at the moment.

Marie reminded us that we are just five months away from a time of great joy and celebration. There’s no reason to wait five months. We can be Christmas people now. Living in the confidence of God’s joyful presence in our lives.

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

I Turned 70 This Past Week

Turning 70

That’s not necessarily a devastating milestone in anyone’s life although it carries some significance.

Even saying it.

I Turned 70 this week.

I know a few of you have already passed thru this threshold of age and everything kept on as before.

We were in NOTL, (Niagara on The Lake) with our daughter, her husband and our two granddaughters..

Our son came for dinner with his wife and our 13 year old grandson.

It doesn’t get much better than that all things considered.

Interesting lesson that is sometimes hard to get into our minds that it’s in the looking forward to things that tend to create the most excitement.

Once the day is come and gone it’s as Peggy Lee sang:

 Is that all there is.  If so, let’s keep dancing.

The earth didn’t go off kilter when I turned 70 as it probably didn’t for you or won’t if you’re not there yet.

The Bible has some good advice for hitting 70, or 80, or 90 or more.

Even to your old age and gray hairs

I am he, I am he who will sustain you.

Isaiah 46:4

What a great promise, that God doesn’t give up on us as we age.

The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old.

Proverbs 20:29

Unfortunately, there’s an over abundant reference to hair, of which I have little.

But even again that’s a minor frustration.

Here’s one I kind of like from 1 Kings

When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. 2 So his attendants said to him, “Let us look for a young woman to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.”

1st Kings 1

But here’s a better one.

 Isaiah 40

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

No reference to age here as far as being renewed in our strength when we spend time meditating on God and the fact that God is our everlasting support, whose understanding of our situation knows no limit.

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2nd Corinthians 4:16 – 18

So age doesn’t matter.

What should matter most to us is having a meaningful relationship with the God who never tires of us even when we might become tiresome and who understands everything about us and still loves us.

Puts being 70 into a new perspective.

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Sunday Summary

Generosity

Generosity

We spent a few days this past week with family at a cottage on Lake of Bays outside of Huntsville. It’s probably not correct to consider it a cottage. A lake house is more correct as the home had 5 bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large deck for eating and reading and steps down to a beautiful lake. (Pam wants me to add there were 45 steps down that seemed like more on the way back up.) 

Our son in law rented a boat and mentioned how easy it was to get lost in the numerous bays on the lake. That’s when I had one of those epiphany moments and offered up the awareness of “that’s why it’s called Lake of Bays.” The family all looked at me with concern. 

I can be slow on the uptake at times.

When I was out in the boat, it was impossible to not be impressed with the magnificent homes that have been built around the lake. Some of the boat houses at lake level were more impressive than some of our homes.

I’ll be honest, it’s easy for me to wonder if I had made other choices in my life, perhaps being a neurosurgeon, a lawyer or corporate executive that I too might have owned one of the palatial homes on the lake shore. Then I think of the blessing to be able to enjoy the experience if even for just a week or two. Not everyone can do this. Not everyone can spend time with family in such a beautiful place, enjoying a wonderful meal every night with birthday cake to celebrate our grandson Eli’s 13th birthday. (Those of you who know me know my love of birthday cake.)

But I digress.

Money is a wonderful thing. Having more than enough is a wonderful blessing. I wonder what happens when we have way more than enough, way more than we need.

In the news this week was the story of young Patrick Mahomes, NFL Quarterback who has just resigned a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs to become the highest paid athlete in the sports world right now. Patrick led the Chiefs to a win in last year’s Super Bowl, the highest honour in professional football. I recall announcers saying that he wasn’t highly paid in comparison to other quarterbacks and would certainly be getting a raise before this next season. A raise is hardly the right word. His new 10-year contract could end up bringing him $503 million if all of the stars line up.

Whenever I hear of these almost obscene contracts, I wonder if the athletes who become the recipients of these awesome financial rewards will join the ranks of the great philanthropists. The folks who are able to give large sums of money to worthy causes. That amount of money can only buy so many things; but think of the joy and benefit that one might bring when those with the overflowing bank accounts begin to share the wealth with the less fortunate. 

I have no idea what Patrick’s plans are for his new-found wealth, but he could take lessons from other athletes such as swimming sensation Michael Phelps, fellow quarterback Russell Wilson, Serena Williams and Lebron James. They have all received accolades for their largess along with their sports celebrity. 

The interesting thing is that philanthropy is not a new concept. It’s founded on Biblical principles and it applies to all of us, yes even the rest of us who have yet to sign our $500 million contracts. 

The scriptures tell us that “reaping is reserved for the sowers.” You have probably heard this idea expressed as “you reap what you sow.” That message usually comes with heavy overtones of a negative nature that if you do something bad, something bad is coming back to you.

Jim Rohn, one of the world’s greatest teachers of how to live a successful life was the first one I heard rephrase the statementwithout that negative inference. Those who take the time to sow good seed in the ground are the ones who will reap a harvest. 

“Reaping is reserved for the sowers.”

In 2 Corinthians 9: 6-8 we hear the following.

“The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have determined inyour mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us.”

We’re all just custodians of the riches that this world can provide. All the blessings of this life originate in God’s abundance and when we become the people through whom these riches flow, Paul made the claim that God will provide enough to supply our generosity which implies enough for us to have enough for ourselves as well as enough to pass on to others, and there’s definitely a joy in that.

Do I wish College Ave had offered me a $500 million contract to stay around for another 10 years? Of course. But in their wisdom, they have chosen to not make that offer, at least not yet. 

Don’t wait for the big contract. It may not be in God’s plans, but it is in God’s plan for us to set the example of giving out of our abundance, because as the passage above infers, God is ultimately the one who provides the seeds that we are called to sow. 

One other mention of Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. He is also noted for the generosity of his “time”. He spends countless hours visiting patients in local hospitals. Reminds me that our abundance is not only money but may be our time as well. Perhaps we should understand that God has a call on our schedules. 

Jesus said that as His people there is reward in feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and visiting those in prison.

Matthew 25: 34-36.

So, it’s not all about money, it all comes down to generosity.

We are called to be people known for our generosity.

I trust it will be true of us.

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

Hope Does Not Disappoint

Hope Does Not Disappoint

The apostle Paul had a way with words. That kind of goes without saying.

A keen ability to string a group of words together to make a point without having to write too many extra pages.

In chapter 5: 1-2, of his letter to the Church at Rome he starts off by summarizing his understanding of what constitutes our relationship with God.

It all begins with Jesus and because of what He has done for us, we enjoy a relationship with God based on a faithful acceptance of God’s gift of grace as opposed to our having to make sacrifices or do anything to actually gain God’s favour.

So we stand in God’s grace, and live in a state of hope for what God has planned for us.

Then he gets creative by stringing together the thoughts that suffering produces endurance which leads to character which develops hope, there’s that word again, and finally it’s all supported by the Love of God that is poured into our very being by the Spirit of God.

You might say that sums up the remaining 65 books of the Bible and end it there or you might wish, as I did, to dissect Paul’s progression of thought.

From suffering to Love.

With endurance and character and hope in between.

The Older King James version used the word tribulation for suffering.

Not a term we use much these days. More like something that is depicted in movies of days gone by.

Newer translations such as the New International Version talk of suffering and others of trouble.

Similar to the trouble they had “right here in River City, and it starts with a T and it sounds like P and it stands for pool.”

That’s a totally ridiculous comment to those of you not familiar with that classic play “Music Man.”

But as I often say… I digress.

Forget trouble for a moment.

I looked at a web site I have used before, giving the original Greek words and their translation and the word scholars have translated trouble, suffering etc. is actually constrictions, more closely related to afflictions.

And aren’t we living in a time of constrictions.

Feeling like afflictions.

Constricted from every activity we have taken for granted like visiting family and friends, attending church, going to the theatre to see Music Man, even just going to the store to get the essentials.

So Paul as much as says that in this time of constriction we develop endurance. The ability to take what comes our way and stand firm and gain strength and deal with it.

Paul will later close this idea by telling us that it is in God’s love that we gain this strength and ability to not let it get us down, I guess because what’s the opposite of enduring, could it be unravelling.

So, difficulties help us develop endurance which builds up our character.

Character is basically who we are or better said who we have become as we have dealt with the issues of life.

Finally, Paul says that all of this life experience, when we deal with it with the help of God’s Spirit, founded on love, leads us to hope.

You remember hope. Not the girl from school, the second of the great attributes that Paul said were the three greatest supports in life. Faith Hope and Love. 1 Corinthians 13

So, with everything else we are dealing with: thirty plus degree of heat; chairs six feet apart in memorial hall as we come to worship; hearing the tune to great hymns but only humming and not singing the words; and all the other constrictions on our lives we are still called to be people of Hope, grounded in the Love of God as we are directed by the Holy Spirit.

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Say It Loud

Say It Loud

Between cutting the grass in the back yard and tackling the larger front yard I took a break when Pam chimed in that Tom Power was about to interview Katy Perry on CBC.

I’ve always been enamored with Tom Power’s interview style. Some of it might be because we both share a Newfie heritage. The other may be that he makes me proud to be a Canadian when celebrities end their interviews by saying that Tom can call back anytime. They are as much as saying that his style is always well researched, and most complimentary to his guests.

As for Katy Perry, even when she came on the scene 10 years ago, I was already past the age where I could name her hit songs although not old enough t0 not recognize her voice and music.

What has probably intrigued me about Katy is that we both were raised in the Pentecostal Church and we have both moved somewhat from their fundamentalist mind set about God.

Katy has continued believing in a loving God who powers our lives in love and grace. I like that. That’s the God I serve as well, through the life of Jesus who came to make that loving God known.

Katy says that she has had struggles in her life, times of discouragement and even depression. Even with her success as a pop star and the significant financial gain she has received she readily gives credit to her acceptance of God’s love and care for the stability she has at times had to work to regain.

Towards the end of the interview, Tom suggested that what he was hearing from her was an overwhelming sense of gratitude for everything, even her rather strict religious upbringing and the difficulties that fame has brought into her life.

Katy’s last comment was that she begins every morning, even before she reaches for her phone, with the statement. “Thank you God for today, I am grateful in every way.” Tom replied with the thought that if you say it louder it can have a greater effect.  

Gratitude. I’ve spoken on it often. It’s one of the major themes of the Bible, both Old and New Testament. Looking back however, most of these messages I have shared with you have been when everything is going well in most of our lives. Perhaps it’s time to reflect once again on the key verses in Scripture that drive home the benefit of being thankful as we are all dealing with the daily difficulty of living with the isolation and restrictions on our lives that Covid-19 has inflicted on us.       

I referenced the Old and New Testament earlier. In the Hebrew Scriptures there are more than a hundred mentions of giving thanks. We often think of the Old Testament prophets as being voices of doom and gloom for the nation of Israel. They did take on that role, but their vitriol was directed against the rulers, the executives in their comfortable corner offices as well as the priests. The prophets said that these people had forgotten about the way that Yahweh had instructed them to govern with a focus on supporting the poor and the visitors in their midst.

Makes me think the world needs a new batch of angry prophets standing in the city centres and reminding the governors and religious folk that they are missing the mark. But I digress.

The prophets did talk about thankfulness. Jeremiah was one of the first to say that we are to be thankful to God.

“Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good his love endures forever.” 

Jeremiah 33:11

That theme was then picked up by the poets who wrote most of the Psalms.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 100

That theme of giving thanks to God because God is good shows up at least another 30 times in the Psalms, depending on which translation you choose.

Then there’ my favourite from the New Testament. In his letter to the church at Thessalonica Paul makes the following outlandish statement.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Paul doesn’t say, “Let me share with you a good idea I’ve learned on the road”? He’s more forceful than that when he says be thankful thru it all, whatever the circumstance, such as Covid-19, for it’s not only a healthy way to live it‘s actually how we should live as God’s people. We are called to be thankful.

There’s great psychology in this verse. Be thankful and be in a good place mentally.

Be ungrateful and be stressed.

Let me finish with Tom and Katy.

”Thank you God for today, I am grateful in every way.”

Say it loud.

Pastor Lloyd

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Sunday Summary

The Wonder Of It All

The Wonder of it All Audio

I was sitting on the back deck working on my laptop, constantly aware of the racket coming from the cedar bush beside me every time a mother or father bird, (it’s hard to tell them apart) came to feed the little ones in the nest. They were like a choir all singing “feed me, feed me.” And as soon as the feeding was over and the adult bird — if we can call them that — flew away, there would be complete silence. It’s almost as though the parents told the kids to keep quiet when we leave because there are cats around.

I had looked at the nest the day before and wondered how birds whose lives may only span two to four years know how to build those things. They’re nothing but twigs and spit of some kind I guess, but they tend to stand up to the best mother nature can throw at them on a stormy day.

Two days later I was back at my back-deck office and I heard a thunk beside me and there was one of the choir, taking its first steps into the world by dropping down on the deck. It looked so frail as it kept up its shrill call for the parents to now find it as it was no longer with its other brothers and sisters in the nest.

Some of the things we take for granted around us are worthy of more significant thought when we take a moment to consider the miracles that seem to be all around us.

Mom and Dad make a nest and then commit to feed the little ones until they can strike out on their own. The little ones take a leap into the unknown and immediately know that they can somehow gain some lift if they just begin to flap those new wings of theirs.

On a grander scale how do Monarch butterflies know to migrate the 4800 kilometers from Mexico to Canada every year? How do they know where they are going and what propels them? How do Grey whales know when it’s time to begin the long swim from Canada’s waters also to the south? That’s a 16,000-kilometer round trip.

I think sometimes all we are left with is “In the beginning God”. This wonder of DNA, this miracle of genetic learning that becomes inherent in each new generation, taking on the lessons learned by previous ones and then somehow, passing on the knowledge for others to just know what to do.

I wonder if we take the wonder of God’s creative plan for granted.

(Pam has just stuck her head out the back door as I am writing this to tell me that there’s a baby robin on the front deck. Maybe they are gathering to find out what I’m saying about them.)

As I was saying, perhaps we take the wonder of creation for granted.

The early Jewish scholars penned the story of creation in a manner to give God the ultimate glory. They didn’t try to go into the scientific evidence, they just wanted to make the statement that God is behind it all.

The Psalmists often spoke of creation being alive. In one of the Psalms we ascribe to David we read.

Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.

Psalm 96: 11-12

Isaiah was thinking in a similar vein when he wrote:

You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.

Isaiah 55: 12

(I know some of you can hear the melody that accompanies that chorus that we sing at College Ave. Just make sure you clap in the right spot.)

When the Pharisees told Jesus to tell His disciples to shut up, Jesus said that if they were quiet then even the stones would cry out in honour of Him. Luke 19:40

We may tend to see these as poetic license, giving inanimate objects human qualities or we may see God’s creation as brimming with energy, also awaiting the redemption of the world.

If this later idea appeals to you then you’re in sync with what Paul said in his book to the church in Rome when he declared the following.

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

Romans 8: 20-22

Bruce Cockburn sings of creation basically humming under the feet of Jesus as he’s walking by. In his song entitled “Hills of Morning” he sings of the wonder of being even just a particle of God’s light. Near the end of this song he sings a line that has been suggested by many as another of his most quotable lyrics about the wisdom of the world.

If you haven’t already, go back and listen to this song and pick up the references to being a particle of God’s light, and his cryptic reference to those who don’t believe in tomorrow.        

If you have heard it already, go back and listen again now that I’ve suggested what you should be listening for.

Being in a relationship with God is not an unusual experience. The writer of the book of Ecclesiastes writes in Chapter 3, following those classic lines about there “being a time for everything under the heavens”, that “God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart”.

God has created the wonder of nature. God has placed the desire for us to know God in our hearts, and as Bruce says:

You can take the wisdom of this world and give it to the ones who think it all ends here

Hills of Morning – Bruce Cockburn

And so, we thank you God for the wonder of creation that you have gifted to us. We’re sorry for the lack of love and care we have given it over the years. As we recognize this failure of ours, we pray for your guidance as we take on the roll to be not only lovers of nature but people who are willing to care for nature as well.

We thank you that we are able to enjoy a loving relationship with you as the joy of eternity rings in our hearts.

Pastor Lloyd

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What, me Worry?

What-Me-Worry

I’ve been thinking about worrying lately.

Not as an abstract idea but something closer to home.

What do I worry about, and I do worry.

Can’t number the times I have spoken on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount where He encouraged us to not be anxious about anything. Don’t worry about the most basic things of life, like what we’ll wear or what we’ll eat or what tomorrow may hold.

Jesus said to not worry because God takes care of the birds in air and lilies in the field and so it goes without saying that we’re more important than these.

Here are some of His thoughts from what we refer to as the Sermon on the Mount from Matthews Gospel.

 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? Matthew 6:25-34

I’m sure if we had been present to hear Jesus say these words, while sitting on a hillside on a nice sunny afternoon, surrounded by our friends we might have been one of those saying Amen, Preach it Jesus.

I’m never going to worry again.

But then we’d have to get back to our regular daily lives and probably we would worry.

Worry about our children and grandchildren.

Worry about bills to pay. Worry about our health.

Things that are natural to worry about. (If I can get away with saying this.)

For us right now this Virus is cause for worry. I’ve heard it often said that It’s hardest on those who are 70 or older. If that’s the case, I only have another month and I’ll really have to start getting serious about worrying.

So, are we less than we should be as Christians if we admit that we have moments when we can be consumed with worry? Is Jesus disappointed when we can’t get past the things in this life that bring us to a state of concern?

John described Jesus as being full of grace and truth. There’s consolation in these words when we recognize that we’re not fully able to live in Jesus words of encouragement.

Full of grace.

But still, it’s worth thinking about worry and all of the negative consequences that can accompany that emotion. Therapists tell us that it can take years off of our lives. Then there are the “self-help” authors who rightfully remind us that most of the things we waste time worrying about never happen. We pay an emotional price and it’s all for nothing.

Perhaps it can be a good exercise to go back and try to understand the audience Jesus was speaking to. These were people without any social nets such as unemployment insurance or healthcare. These were people living under occupation, the heavy hand of the Roman Government who used crucifixion as a means of keeping everyone in line. These were people with limited resources who had to pay heavy taxes to the Romans out of their meager finances. And Jesus says don’t worry. Don’t worry about the necessities of life, or about what may or may not happen tomorrow and He gives them a reason for accepting this as a way to live.

In one of my favourite Peanuts cartoons, Charlie Brown, Lucy and Linus all come upon a rather discouraged looking Snoopy and they all say the same thing. “Be of good cheer Snoopy, yes, be of good cheer.” I may have missed the message in this cartoon had I not read an article about Charles Schulz, who created Peanuts for 50 years and the message he had buried in this short story. He said, may times our words of encouragement hold no meaning, there’s no weight behind our best wishes.

Be of good cheer sounds good but the question could be, why?

Jesus added weight to his teaching about not worrying when He says because your Father, your Father, the God of all abundance and supply has all of these concerns taken care of.

That needs to be our fallback when the cares of this life begin to weight heavy. The Jews in Jesus congregation were under occupation. We’re living under occupation. Not by an army with swords and lances, but by a virus that most of us never saw coming.

So, in this time of concern and anxiety and worry, Jesus says don’t worry about all of the things that can give us cause to worry, but instead He ends this lesson with the encouragement to seek God’s truth and direction and the rest of the important needs in life will be met.

I think Jesus was saying this is a different way to live in the world, as opposed to living in a state of anxiety and worry which includes so many of us and as I have confessed, me as well sometimes.

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Sunday Summary

The Three Amigos

Since January 2011, when I joined David at College Ave, I have been involved in joint services with Bonnie Pilkey and Jane Van Patter of Dundas Street United and St David’s respectively. These were usually around Lent and Advent. With Bonnie set to retire later in June and Jane to do the same in October, we thought it a nice idea to have one last joint service. Here it is in three parts, giving us one last opportunity to enjoy what has been for all of us a rich experience.