DUNDAS STREET UNITED CHURCH
October 10, 2021 – Thanksgiving Sunday/Creation 5
Sunday Service – 10:30 a.m.
Minister: - Rev Sherpherd Munikwa
Text: Matthew 6:25–33: Do not worry about what you will eat or drink.
Theme: Thank you Lord, For Your Blessings on Me!
Creation Season’s liturgical colour is associated with orange and many other fall colours. Sunrise and sunset, fall and harvest, and the changing seasons, nature’s last burst of colour before winter. It is the red of passion tempered by the yellow of wisdom. These are warm colours which reminds us of spiritual renewal, enthusiasm, creativity, fruitfulness, endurance, resilience and strength on our journey of faith.
We all worry at one point or another. Eventually it leads to a level of anxiety that would qualify as a disorder. Especially these days, we often worry about many different activities of daily life, such as our home, work, finances, family, the future and health especially as we are passing through this covid-19 pandemic. In today’s reading Jesus is addressing this topic.
No need to worry because it doesn’t help: Jesus addresses this very explicitly in Vs27. He says, “Can any of you add one moment to his life span by worrying?” This is a rhetorical question, meaning that it doesn’t need an answer. The obvious answer is, “No!” You cannot add a single moment to your life by worrying. Worry cannot add a single minute to your life. Worry cannot add a single dollar to your bank account. Worry cannot help your kids or grand kids behave better. Worry cannot help in our challenges as a church. Worry cannot solve our challenges as a family. Worry cannot help any of us. Worrying can have negative effects in your life? It can damage our health. Worry can damage our relationships. Worry can rob our joy. Worry can rob opportunities. Our worry can affect ourselves. Our worry can affect others. Our worry can affect our relationship with God. We might think if I don’t worry, I won’t get important stuff done. Concern and worry are not the same. Concern acknowledges that something needs careful thought. Worry is given to consuming trepidation (feeling of fear or agitation about something that may happen). Concern gives way to planning. Worry gives way to fear. Concern leads to healthy attention. Worry leads to unhealthy anxiety. Concern moves you to action. Worry demobilizes, concern motivates and mobilizes you. Planning for tomorrow is time well spent. Worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Jesus concludes this passage by saying in Vs 34, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
No need to worry because God knows what you need: Jesus gives us two primary examples from nature to prove this point to us. He gives us the example of the birds of the air. Vs 26 Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? The birds (and other animals for that matter) have plenty of food to eat. You rarely ever hear of a wild animal dying of starvation. God’s natural created order has provision built in for feeding His creatures. God provides for His creation! How much more does God provide for the crown of His creation: human beings! Jesus asks, “Aren’t you worth more than they?” The emphatic answer is: yes! We are worth more than all the rest of Creation. God knows what we need more than we know what we need for ourselves. Our time and modern culture may be losing its value for human life, but rest assured that God has not lost His value for human life. We are His prize, we are His people, we are His favorite in all the universe.
Jesus then gives us this second example in Vs 28 – 30. “And why do you worry about clothes? Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t he do much more for you—you of little faith?” Again, the point translates very easily for us. If God can cloth the flowers of the field, the lesser part of Creation, won’t He also cloth human beings, the greatest part of Creation? So, friends, let us trust God in all matters of life. Let us trust that we are important to God, more important than all the rest of Creation? God provide for us. God knows what’s best for us. Everything that we need comes from Him. James tells us in 1:17 that every good and perfect thing comes from Him. Food, clothing, money, family, faith, love, grace, forgiveness, it all come from our Creator God! Jesus even challenges our faith on this. He says, “. . . you of little faith.” He’s saying that our worry related to earthly necessities comes as a result of our lack of faith in our God. We’re worried about our food and our finances and our fashions, but Jesus is concerned with our faith. Vs 33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Friends, there is no need to worry because what we really need is God, the giver of life and all its necessities. If we seek God and His ways first and foremost, these other things will work out. He says, “All these things will be provided for you.” Let us get our priorities straight, and everything else will fall into place. So, friends, let us give thanks to God our Creator, Provider and Sustainer. Happy Thanksgiving. Amen!
DUNDAS STREET UNITED CHURCH
September 26, 2021 – 18th Pentecost/Creation 3
Sunday Service – 10:30 a.m.
Minister: - Rev Sherpherd Munikwa
Text: James 5:13–20, Mark 9:38–50
Theme: We are Called for Building a Peaceable Community.
Creation Season’s liturgical colour is associated with orange and many other fall colours. Sunrise and sunset, fall and harvest, and the changing seasons, nature’s last burst of colour before winter. It is the red of passion tempered by the yellow of wisdom. These are warm colours which reminds us of spiritual renewal, enthusiasm, creativity, fruitfulness, endurance, and strength on our journey of faith.
Last week the disciples argued among themselves about who is the greatest (Mark 9:30-37). This week (Mark 9:38-50) they are complaining about this other guy, this stumbling block to their status, power, and recognition. I wonder if this might not be a variation on last week’s argument. You remember how that ended, right? It ended with Jesus taking a child into his arms and saying, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” You may also remember that I said that the child is a symbol of servanthood, obedience, vulnerability, powerlessness, and dependency on another.
Today’s gospel is a continuation and part of last week’s story. It’s one story told in two weeks. Jesus and the disciples are still in the same house as last week, the child is still on Jesus’ lap, and Jesus is still deepening and moving the conversation inward.
John does not say that this guy interfered with the disciples’ work, that he had a different purpose, or that he opposed them. He simply says, “He was not one of us.” Never mind that the guy was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. He was not one of them, and that seems to be their stumbling point.
I don’t know what that meant for John and the others but I know that today it often means the other does not look or dress like us, the other does not speak or act like us, the other does not think or believe like us, the other does not do it our way. He or she is not following us. Whatever it was for John and the disciples, they felt threatened by this guy. He was casting out demons, alleviating oppression, offering a new life, all in the name of Jesus. Chances are the guy was getting a name, status, and recognition. John, however, wants to make the conversation about this other guy, this stumbling block. “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” Isn’t that what we often do or want to do with our stumbling blocks? We draw lines, build walls that divide into us and them, and try to stop them. I see that happening in the world today. We read it in the news. We have done it. Many times, we have been John, haven’t we?
Jesus, however, takes a different approach. He erases the line, breaks down the walls and enlarges the circle as well as building bridges. His concern is focused on us, not the other, and it’s twofold: First, whether we have become a stumbling block to another, “to one of these little ones,” to the child sitting on his lap, and second, whether we have become a stumbling block to ourselves.
Jesus is once again asking us to look at ourselves, to be self-reflective. It’s as if he saying to John, “Don’t you worry about that other guy. You worry about yourself.” He’s asking us to look within. The greatest stumbling blocks are not outside us but within us: jealous, anger and revenge, the judgments we make of others, prejudice, our desire to get ahead and be number one, the need to be right, our unwillingness to listen, the assumption that we know more and better than another, living as if our way is the only and right way, pride, fear, being exclusionary, our busyness, lies, gossip, our desire for power and control. These cause others and us to fall. In many ways, we became stumbling blocks to other and to ourselves. The greater stumbling blocks are systemic. In what ways is the legal system a stumbling block to justice for all? In many ways we participated in and perpetuated those systemic stumbling blocks inn our societies?
You can hear that in the images Jesus uses: drowning by millstone, the amputation of hand or foot, the torn-out eyeball, the unquenchable fire, hell, the worm that never dies. We don’t need to take those literally, but we need to take them absolutely seriously. Jesus uses those images four times to talk about our betterment. “It is better for you…,” he says. That’s what this work is about. It’s about us being better not to be a stumbling block to another and ourselves. Jesus wants us “be at peace with one another,” That begins with looking at ourselves, not each other. What might we need to change or give up in order to step into our better selves? As individuals, a nation, a church? What if we committed to help one another live into our better selves? What if we were more concerned about another’s success than our own? We would rather be building blocks than stumbling blocks. We are Called for Building a Peaceable Community. Amen!