11 August 2013††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† St. Athanasius Lutheran Church
Pentecost 12††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †† Vienna, VA
ďNo Worries, Mate!Ē
Text: Luke 12:22-34; Hebrews 11:1-16; Genesis 15:1-6
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Australians (as we know from our friend Adam) have a saying - if you are concerned about something, or apologize for something, or need to ask for something, what youíll most often hear back is: No worries, mate! which means: donít concern yourself with that. No big deal. Iíve got it covered.
Which is really what Jesus is saying to us today in the Holy Gospel. What you will eat, what you will drink, what you have or what you donít have, what you need to live - no worries, mate! Donít get over anxious with that. No big deal. Youíre Father in heaven got it covered. Those words are intended to give us confidence and faith. Those words are good news.
The problem is: I donít think most of us hear these words of Jesus today as good news. I think we mostly hear them not as Jesus speaking kindly to us and reassuring us, but as Jesus barking at us, wagging His divine finger at us who have fallen short in the ďdo not worryĒ department, and commanding us not to be anxious, not to worry. And so we wind up not confident of the love of our Father for us, but convicted - once again - of our shortcomings and sin.
I know you want to do this - not worry; you want to do what Jesus says and be a good Christian, and so hearing these words of Jesus you (once again) tell yourself to stop worrying and trust more. But it doesnít work. For what happens when you tell yourself not to worry is that you start to worry more, because you start worrying about the fact that youíre worrying, and your burden becomes heavier and heavier.
But thatís not what your Father in heaven wants. And itís not why Jesus said this. Jesus has come not to add to your burden, but to carry it for you, make your burden light, and give you rest (Matt 11:28). So do not hear these words today as a command for you to fix yourself, but instead as Jesusí no worries, mate! Your Fatherís got it covered. He knows what you need. He created all things and is caring for all things, even the ravens, the lilies, and the grass. So you, too, who are greater and worth more than all these things. For youíre not here today and gone tomorrow like them - youíre His child, dearly loved.
And you were like that at one time - without worry - when you were young. Young children donít worry a whole lot. They know that Dadís got things under control. They know Momís got it covered. Food, clothing, shelter, protection - theyíre worrying about these things so I donít have to. So children are free and care free. And even when parents donít come through or even hurt their children, those children often still look to their parents and rely on their parents for what they need. Thereís a connection there. A confidence there. A trust there.
Itís when we grow up and get a little older that things change. We move on from childhood and become adults, and increased responsibilities and obligations and the sin so prevalent in the world cause us to be anxious and worry. The care free days vanish like smoke. And itís not a change for the better, is it? When our untroubled childhood is exchanged for hypertension, ulcers, and sleepless nights.
And so Jesus is inviting you back. To be children again. Children of a heavenly Father who got it covered for you - no matter what ďitĒ is. For the biggest ďitĒ of all - sin, death, devil, hell, grave, and eternal life, He has already taken care of for you. Covered by Jesus blood in your baptism, youíre more than a ďmate,Ē youíre a child, adopted into the family of God and under the constant care of a Father who wonít let you down and would never hurt you. A Father who wonít spoil you by being a sugar daddy, who will discipline you when necessary, and love you enough to tell you the truth. Or in other words, a Father you can count on.
My mother used to tell me that as a father, when you draw the line for your children, when you enforce the rules and discipline them and do what you say and they see you as strict, they may not like it, but they will also know you will be the same way for them when the chips are down. A father they can count on. How much more can you count on your heavenly Father who is perfect, who loves you with a perfect love, and does not change.
And Jesus too. His no worries, mate! was never thundered so loudly as it was as He hung on the cross for you. For not for lilies, ravens or grass did He die, but for you. He came as your brother, to take care of the big deal of sin, death, devil, hell, and grave for you. He battled them all so that you wouldnít have to. That you not worry about these, †† but live in the freedom from them that Jesus has won for you. That while these things are realities in the world and in our lives, they not be worries. They were overcome by Jesus for you. His resurrection proof of His victory and His promise of eternal life.
So no worries, mate! Your heavenly Father got it covered. That is also the word for you today from Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. We often make the same mistake with these words, about these folks, as we did with Jesusí words earlier and think: I have to be like that. I need to have a stronger faith. I need to be more steadfast. Like them. And while that maybe true, what Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah would all say to you today is this: this chapter is about Godís faithfulness, not ours. This is about His steadfast love, not ours. We simply believed His Word, that He would do what He said. And He did. And He does the same for you.
This chapter puts the meat on the bones of Jesusí no worries mate! For all these people had plenty to worry about. Abel had his brother Cain who wanted to kill Him - and finally did. Death rose up at the time of Enoch too, when they all frightfully witnessed their father Adamís death and perhaps wondered what would happen next? Noah had the sin in the world and Godís Word of a destroying flood. And Abraham and Sarah - going from place to place, living in tents, among some people who were friendly and some who were hostile, and too old to have the children that God promised . . .
But God provided. He is a God who gives life after death, who protects and preserves, who saves from a sinful world, who watches over His children and keeps His promises. All of them. Sure they had their share of troubles. ††††††††††† You will, too, as long as you live in this sin-filled world. But itís not you against the world. Itís not even us, the Church, against the world. Itís God for the world. God giving His Word and keeping His Word in the midst of a world, of people, intent on destroying themselves.
You see, the question really isnít: why is there so much sin and death in the world? So much to worry about? Thereís so much sin and death in the world because sinners do sin and sin does death and thatís who we are. And if God hadnít stepped in . . . thatíd be the end of the story, and a story that would have ended long ago. Long before you and I ever came along.
But God did step in. He stepped into the Garden on that frightful day of sin and gave Adam and Eve His Word, His promise, of a Saviour. And then He stepped into the world at Bethlehem to be that Saviour. To be destroyed by His own to save His own. To take all the blows that a sinful, dying, and hell-bent world could give, and in His resurrection say to His disciples: no worries, mates! Thatís all done now. Your Father has kept His Word.
And [Abram] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
And so you too. Believe the Lord, your righteousness. When the Lord says to you: you are my child, I will take care of you. When the Lord says to you: I forgive you all your sins. When the Lord says to you: this is My Body, this is My Blood, given and shed for you. Believe the Lord, believe his Word and promise, and it is given to you. Forgiveness in a world of sin. Life in a world of death. Confidence in a world of worry.
For nothing pleases God more than when you believe His Word. Nothing. We sang it in the Introit earlier: the Lordís delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man - or in other words: not in anything you can do - but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
So what are you worried about, dear child of God? Is it something your Father cannot provide? Is it something He cannot see you through? Is it something greater than He? Then no worries, mate! Fear not, little flock, for it is your Fatherís good pleasure to give you the kingdom. You have His Word. You have His promise. You have a Saviour.
In the Name of the Father and of the (+) Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.