28 September 2017

Today’s Homily

Chapel for Thursday, 9/28

Text: Matthew 6:25–33

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 
34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. 

Catechism, conclusion of First Article Explanation. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of Fatherly divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I remember preaching a stupid sermon on this text years ago when I was a young pup out of the sem, and one of my members pointed out the obvious. But Pastor, sometimes there isn't food and the bird dies. And sometimes the bird is food for the cat. Too true. I had preached a Jesus akin to Annie and her cheerful the sun will come tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar, come what may. But Jesus is no flower child of the 60's, don't worry, be happy. The key to getting what he says is not to ignore the last verse. He does not say: "Don't worry about tomorrow because it will all be okay." He says: "Don't worry about tomorrow because today's burden and troubles are quite enough for you. Each day's grief is enough on its own without you loading it up with fears about tomorrow."

So each day has its trouble, its own badness. Kaka. The Greek there. Don't go piling up more of the smelly stuff than you've already got on your plate for today. And that is the point about the birds and the flowers. Their tomorrow isn't what occupies them. They live in the moment. They are "present" as we say these days. Luther says that the little bird gets up and sings to the Father its matins without even a thought of where the food is coming from, and then goes off to find it (or to be found by the pious cat not doubt saying: "For what we are about to receive…"). Either way, no anxiety. No fear. Because it all comes from the hand of the one Jesus tells you is "your heavenly Father" who knows what you need. 

And there He stands. He who is really the only thing you need. You have Him, your Jesus, you have everything. You have peace. Not anxiety. St. Paul got the hang of it when he marvelled: "He who did not spare His only Son but have Him up for us all, how will he not also with Him graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32. Ponder that: not just that He gives you all the things you think you need, but that HE is the one who is graciously giving you all things. All things. Even the troubles. 

Job got it. When his wife suggested that it was rather worthless to serve a God who couldn't keep your kids alive and your money together, better just curse him and be done with him for good, Job told her to stop speaking like a foolish woman. "Shall we receive good (meaning things we like) from the hand of God and shall we not receive evil (ra in Hebrew, kaka in the LXX, the trouble, the grief)?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Jesus teaches you to receive all as gracious gift from the Father because you, after all, are worth more than the birds or the lilies. Your worth was shown in the gift of the Son into your flesh in order to be given into death. Like the grass tossed into the oven, He went into lonely place that we had chosen for ourselves on His cross. He received it as gift. Never lose that. "Shall I not drink the cup that MY FATHER HAS GIVEN ME?" His whole life was trust that His Father's will was gracious. And so, like the bird that becomes food for the cat, He became food for death. Went into it trusting His Father and so burst its stinking gullet wide open. Never had death swallowed something so splendidly indigestible. He went in knowing that even this was gracious gift to receive from the hand of the Father and His resurrection proved that His faith was not misplaced. He's raised from the dead to be food for you and to clothe you with His very own unfailing trust in the Father.

"Trust my Father," is His constant call to you and to me. "He graciously gives you all things, and you know this because He graciously gave you me. He's not holding back on you. When the day's troubles mount, they don't come to you from any hand but His. From the hand of the one whose love gave me to be Your Savior to forgive your anxieties, to destroy your death, to bring you with me into the joy of my way of living, my liturgy, where everything comes as gracious gift from the hand of my Father, and so received ends up being in the end nothing but blessing. Even the kaka. Especially the kaka." 

For all this is it indeed my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Hymn: 760 What God Ordains is Always Good

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