Summary: A message encouraging our congregations to not worry about a thing. Instead, be happy and serve God with joyous and tranquil hearts
I have to tell ya, I had an interesting Tuesday morning as I started to prepare for our time together. As I often do, I dug out the Lectionary to see where we were to be headed for the week. Well, I found where I thought the lectionary said to be, and started to read Jesus’ words. Then, shortly I started to read —out of nowhere — I got a shiver in my body, and then the melody of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin started to swirl through my mind.
For me, there’s nothing like a little Jazzy Reggae to put my spirit in a place of tranquility and joy. Anyway, as I continued to read, I found myself humming — loudly I might add. As many of you know, I can’t’ carry a tune; but that didn’t stop me from signing. All Tuesday morning, I hummed McFerrin’s happy melody. I think I owe my secretary an apology.
Anyway, here’s the peculiar thing. I noticed —oh about an hour after I started preparing — the lectionary texts for this week were different from what I’d been reading. Then, I started to ask myself: do I need to go back to the drawing board? But you know what? I believed the shiver I felt —coinciding with the music I started to hum — was a signal from God that I was on track for this weekend’s message. Here’s why.
It’s good every now-and-again to hear that God doesn’t want us to worry about a thing. Instead, he wants us to be happy and content, and to trust in him for all our needs. That’s what we’re going to hear in detail this morning. First, let me paint a picture of the Gospel’s setting.
Matthew 4:23–25 says, Jesus travelled throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Matthew continued (and allow me to condense), “News about him spread into Syria… [and] large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Then we hear in Matthew 5:1, “Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down… and he began to teach.”
Okay, from that point, all the way through Chapter seven, we hear the words of Jesus’ legendary Sermon on the Mount. Now, picture an area with rolling, grassy hills overlooking a sea the size of Lake Coeur d’ Alene. This would be the backdrop for Jesus’ teaching. He talked as hundreds, if not many more, gathered on the hillside to hear and see the living word of God.
The landscape and scenery would have been soothing. Maybe some birds were flying around, and maybe a cool breeze was blowing from the lake onto the hills where they gathered. Some people would have been leaning back on the arms; some lying down, and others leaning forward intently listening and watching every word and movement of Jesus.
Now, it’s safe to say, by our Lutheran standards, Jesus’ sermon was long. He talked for a great while — far longer than any preacher does today. But he was Jesus. He was captivating, inviting, and he spokes all sorts of truths about living life, that occupied the minds of the average person — both then and now.
He spoke about the ways God desires we live our lives as godly people in a world full of anxiety and problems. He talked about sexual matters, and the consequences of infidelity. He chatted about loving people —even when we don’t want to; and then not seeking retribution when we’re wronged. Then he talked about being charitable; and why prayer is so crucial.
Then, just when the folks might have started to grow weary, Jesus shifted his talk to money matters. Surely, the crowd’s ears would have perked up. He talked about its traps; and the ways in which our devotion to money and stuff can be the cause of anxiety and problems. Then, in an encouraging way, he transitioned from talking about our greeds, to our needs, and not worrying about a thing. Let’s hear Jesus words again for the benefit of our faith, and for our listening audience. Turn please to Matthew 6:24-34.
FROM GREEDS TO NEEDS
Let’s read just verse 24 for now. Know that it does fit within the context of where we’re headed. READ V24. Those are easy words to read, but tough for us in America to hear. We have so much; more than any of us know what to do with — even if we think we’re poor. Most of us confuse the things we want, with the things we need in order to live: basic things like food, water, shelter, clothing, and love and friendship.