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Sermon – Sunday 19th February 2017
Theme: Do Not Worry
Preached by: Folake Makanjuola
Readings: 10:30am: Gen. 1:1-2:3; Rom. 8:18-25; Matt. 6:25-34
‘Jesus said, “do not worry, is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
What do we need to be able to accept these sayings of Jesus? We need faith. It is faith that has brought you and me here this morning. It is faith that brings us close to God when we look around us at all things created. It is faith that enables us have a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. So, if we know and accept this fact, why do we worry? Is it because we do not know what tomorrow will bring? Worry, is ingrained in our nature as human beings. We worry about life and everything it throws at us, inflation, food and clothes are getting more and more expensive to buy in the shops, our finances, paying our bills, our health what the doctor is going to say at our next appointment, our children, job security, our relationships, and families not getting along. But, as soon as the old worries are gone, and there is really nothing to worry about, we make one up. But all of these only make it very easy to become distracted and thinking that this life is all there is. The message Jesus has for us is ‘do not worry’. Jesus knows what it means for humans to worry, we become ill, some of us even suffer high anxiety.
Jesus wants us to know that it is futile to worry over situations we have no power to change. If it is material things we need, Jesus said look, the birds of the air do not toil for their foods, if our heavenly Father can feed the birds of the air, and clothe the flowers of the field, then He is capable of meeting all our needs. We need to be clear about what Jesus is not saying here though, He is not saying future planning is unnecessary. We can be progressive in our thinking, manage our finances and plan for retirement. What Jesus is saying is, after we have done all that we are capable of doing, do not add worry to it. Be still and watch God at work, watch Him do what He does best, taking care of all our needs, Wait patiently on Him.
We can, however, be concerned for each other. If we are not concerned about how we treat our environment, or care for the vulnerable, or bothered to check on our elderly neighbour whom we have not seen step out of his or her house for weeks, what message do we proclaim to the world? There’s a difference, however, between concern and worry. If we are concerned about anything, we try to do something about it, but when we worry, we know intrinsically that we cannot do anything to make a difference, it becomes something beyond our power, and that is when we make God seem incapable, when we go off worrying needlessly.
In Genesis God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” So we can take the fruit eat it and the seed in it, we can replant, and who makes it grow? Who waters it with rain?
The tone changed slightly when Jesus came and said, your Father in heaven has given you all these things for sustenance, Now, choose LIFE, Eternal LIFE, “Is LIFE not more than food, and the body more than clothing?” seek ye therefore God’s Kingdom and everything else will be added to it. God has the power to keep us alive….. let me change that round slightly to fit the metaphor, God has the power to give eternal LIFE, and so, He will see to it that we have all that we need to get there.
Our world as we know it, is not perfect. When God created it, it was perfect, but in our sinfulness we ruined it. But God has given us hope in His Son Jesus. A certain hope that is absolute and worth waiting for. The hope of eternal life. In Romans chapter 8, Paul reminds us, “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience”
Worry accomplishes nothing, it only eats away at our livelihood, and since we cannot add a single hour to our life, why not leave it to the one who can? Trust in God our creator, who is able to do all things, the one who has promised us eternal life.
All worry does is cause us to lose faith in God. But when we focus our attention on His kingdom and righteousness, then we are able to see worry for what it really is, we realize that it is nothing worth the loss of sleep because whatever the source of worry, it is only a phase that passes so quickly that we wonder if it was ever there in the first place. God is capable of guiding us through all of those things which constitute worry, He alone can overcome them if we let Him.
Jesus said ‘do not worry’. We must learn to live one day at a time. Let tomorrow take care of itself. God only gives us the help we need for today. Don’t worry about what you are going to do tomorrow, because when tomorrow comes, God’s grace will be there to meet us and give us what we need. Each day has enough trouble of its own” Today we have grace and strength.
Paul tries to take our minds off worrying when he said, ‘I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us’. In Jesus Christ, we have the hope of eternal life.
Do not worry, but hold on to the hope which God has given to us. Amen
Sermon: Epiphany; God revealed.
Preacher: Folake Makanjuola
Date: Sunday 8th January 2017
Readings: Isaiah 60: 1-6, Ephesians 3: 1-12, Matthew 2: 1-12
May I speak in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Amen.
Today we are celebrating the feast of Epiphany, the day that many Christians commemorate the revelation of God. This God who is beyond our human knowing has come to make Himself known to the world in human form, through the incarnation of His Son Jesus Christ. The observance of Epiphany had its origins in the eastern Christian church, and included the birth of Jesus Christ; the visit of the Magi and all of Jesus’ childhood events, up to his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist. What this means for us is, in the next few Sundays before Lent, we shall be reading those scripture passages which declare the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, ie the baptism and the transfiguration. The story of the birth of Jesus Christ as we all know it, is incomplete without narrating the visit of the magi. This story has been told for many years, and now it is difficult to tell it without sounding repetitious. But, there is a twist to the story of this visit, which could be carefully teased out, and I hope by a long shot it doesn’t sound like I am ‘reinventing the wheel’ here.
Now, this morning, you have probably noticed the one thing that our readings have in common. They all speak of the revelation of God to people other than Christians, people who could be regarded as non-believers because of their own beliefs in things considered not to be of God, such as the worship of idols. The book of Isaiah speaks of the breaking forth of the light of God to people of all nations, in Ephesians we are informed that the ultimate purpose of God is to bring together the whole of creation and gather them unto Himself, without discrimination. Similarly, the Gospel of Matthew reminds us that Christ has come to remove every boundary in order to unite us with God. The implication here is quite significant and it is important to keep it in focus in order to have full understanding of the season we are entering.
The season of Epiphany is a reminder that the breaking forth of the light of God into the darkness of this world, is unconditional. This light is Jesus Christ, and He has come to reveal God the Father, to give salvation and life, not just to the remnant of Israel, or for those who have returned from exile, but for all people of all nations. God our creator, breaks into human lives as He wills, His glory may appear where we least expect it. He chose to reveal the birth of Christ to the magi, who by every description were pagans. Their faith and belief rested on the stars to interpret the times and what they considered to be extra ordinary cosmic events. Their practice of astrology was a highly regarded profession of science at the time.
Unlike you and I, they did not come looking for Jesus Christ by attending a church to listen to a sermon, and neither did they have to experience sacrament, things which are exclusive to us Christians. They came seeking Jesus Christ after studying what they believed in, the night skies. It is this tool of their profession, a single bright star, which God used, to guide them all the way to Bethlehem from their far away eastern country.
In bypassing all the pious religious leaders, the scribes and the Pharisees, and all of Herod’s wise men, God called on the magi despite their way of life and belief, and He brought them to bow down before the King of kings. There is a similar pattern of this type of calling in Ephesians, the Gentiles are being brought into the inheritance of salvation. Traditionally, Gentiles were those who worshiped other gods. They did not believe in the God of Israel, but through Christ, they have been called to faith in a new way, they are brought into a relationship with God through grace. This is the mystery of God which Paul talks about, the calling of unbelievers, which only proves one thing, that no one has exclusive right to be an heir of God’s grace. Not us so called believers, no one. It is only through the mercy of God that we are all called to the same faith.
The story of the magi calls us to radical responsibility toward all those who have been excluded from our Christian narrative. Jesus Christ invites us to partake in this mystery of God, to welcome those whom we might consider to be outsiders to our faith, and through our actions, show them the glory of God, which has been revealed to us through Jesus Christ. God’s ways are bigger than our understanding, bigger than the schemes of all the ‘Herods’ of this world, His ways are unfathomable. God is determined to do whatever it takes to redeem all people, He has a plan for the whole of creation. Jesus Christ has come for this reason, so that no one is beyond God’s embrace.
The magi, in their dreams, were instructed not to return to Herod who had planned to harm the new born child, they were to take another route back to their country. ‘Another route back home’, could symbolise the start of a new way of life after coming to know Christ. A turning away from the old way of doing things.
During this season of epiphany, let us also take another route, another look at our responses to this light of God among us, and ask ourselves, how can we bring this wonderful gift to others who need to feel welcomed? How well can we use our gifts to serve God in the diversity of our community? Jesus Christ is about to offer a very special and expensive gift on the cross, how can we express our love and appreciation of Him in an unreserved and unrestrained way? ‘Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of God is upon you’. This light of God, has come to give of Himself to us because of the love God has for us.
The three wise men of the east, they brought their best gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, we also will give the best of what we have to this God, this God, who chose to reveal Himself in a child, who left His Kingdom and gave over everything to come to experience humanity and all its failings and triumphs, its joy, and its sadness. Unconditionally, and in humble adoration, we will welcome this King of kings and make Him the centre of everything that we are and do.
I pray, therefore, that this brilliant light of God may shine brightly in our lives for all to see, ‘We whom the Spirit lights will give light to the world’. I pray that the love of God be evident in us and in our homes as we reach out to this hurting and dying world. And, may the glory of God rise upon us in this New Year, now, and every day of our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.