Trinity Lutheran Church, Beloit, WI
December 5th, 2012
Midweek Advent Divine Service
“The future in faith”
Today's Gospel reading includes Jesus' familiar words about worry. Look at the birds of the air and lilies of the field, and don't worry. You're worth more to God than they are. Each day has enough trouble of its own. The Gentiles run after all these things, but you, Christians, seek the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you. Familiar words. Words which, I have to admit, hit home for me.
We all worry, don't we? The future is uncertain. Cloudy. What will tomorrow bring? And we have enough experience in this sinful, broken, world, to know that things don't always turn out the way we want. Disasters strike without warning. Frustrations arise. Our best laid plans... well, you know how it goes. Disappointment after disappointment teaches us that tomorrow is a thing to be feared. That heartache and trouble lurk just around the corner. And so we worry.
What will we eat? What will we wear? Where will we live? Will we have enough money to pay the bills? Will I have a job? Will my retirement funds hold up? What if I get sick? What if I am sick, can the doctors help me? What about my children? Will they be ok? Will they grow up to be responsible, respectable, and live a good life? Or will they make mistakes, get in trouble, or turn away from my values? There are worries about the world at large – wars and rumors of wars. There are worries about the economy. And if that's not enough you can worry about a silly ancient calendar that ends on December 21st this year.
I have to admit, being a missionary doesn't make you immune to worry. We can worry about where we'll be living, what we'll be eating, how we'll adjust to a new country. We can worry about what we'll eat, and can we afford it, and how will our children fare? When will we leave, when will we return, what does the future hold for us? And what about this new congregation – will it grow? Will people respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Or will it be a long, hard slog with little to show for our time and energy?
I don't know what your worries are, but I certainly know mine. I don't know what your worries are, but I know the human condition. Jesus tells us not to worry for a reason. He knows our weakness.
Jesus tells us not to worry. He calls us to repent of serving that other master – the mammon, the material, the things of the world. Turn away from the false gods of money and food and house and home, even friends and family. Nothing should come before the true God. Nothing should concern us as much as his will for our lives. And no one should worry about these earthly things, when the heavenly things are what truly matter.
But even in this call to repentance is a gentleness, a kindness, for his little ones of little faith. These words of Jesus don't come across as an angry diatribe against you tedious little sinners who will never get it through your thick skulls..... instead, he speaks tenderly, about the Father's love for us – far more than the birds or the flowers, and of our great value to him. He knows our needs, better than we do. And if he cares for them, won't he care for us?
Jesus knows well to what lengths the Father would go to care for our needs. And our greatest need, all the more. We need to be redeemed, saved, snatched from the jaws of sin and death. We need a savior. And our God provides, richly. He sends his own Son.
To Adam and Eve who worried about their frightful life in the newly fallen world, God promised a savior who would crush the serpent's head. To Abraham, who worried that he would see no heir, and would have to leave everything to his servants, God promised descendants more numerous than the stars, and one descendent through whom all nations would be blessed. The Old Testament believers, though they worried about their tomorrows, also looked in faith and hope, trusting the promises of God, that he would provide, that he would save.
The long awaited Advent of the Christ was fulfilled in the little town of Bethlehem. The king then came to his holy city, riding on a donkey. And his work reached its climax when he came to the place of the skull and was crucified. He came, he accomplished salvation, he provided for our need.
For our part, we have a future that is secure in him. A future that leaves us no need to worry. We have the promise of his return. We have the promise of our own resurrection. And we have the promise of a forever home in his presence, where God himself will wipe every tear from our eyes. Don't worry about tomorrow, because God holds your future in his hands. Don't worry about the things of this world, but trust him who created it all for your good, and will one day restore to you all things. In this world, troubles will come, but this world is not where our future lies. We who live in Christ, die in Christ, and rest from our labors, only to live in Christ forever.
As you prepare for the celebration of his birth, don't worry about the little things or the big things. As you look forward to his second Advent, the advice and encouragement is the same. Don't be anxious about tomorrow. For the same God who provided even his only Son to die for you – is the God who will care for you tomorrow and always. In Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.