“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 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? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like of of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
-The Gospel of St. Matthew in the very words and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, in Witness of Jesus the Christ, 6:25-34
On this Christian Sabbath Day, as working people in Wisconsin rest after a long day of standing up for their human dignity and rights in the workplace, it might be profitable in the spirit-led life rather than in the profit-driven life to examine these words of wisdom from a long-ago Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth in Palestine.
His logic is impeccable. He is obviously a great teacher. Wisconsin teachers will immediately see that in this lesson from the Christian lectionary for Sunday, 27 February 2011. “And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”
We are in a long hard fight for our basic civil rights, our human dignity and our ability to support our families. But Jesus of Nazareth reminds us that we are not going to gain anything by worrying about it. We must act. We must protest. We must stand together for justice. But we need not trouble ourselves about what others do to harm us. That is a powerful message.
In her Sunday message today, Pastor Diane Olson of Galilee Lutheran Church ELCA in Pewaukee, Wisconsin speaks of “Kingdom Living,” in relation to this Christian message. It has to do with setting aside the striving for money, power, for ourselves alone, and to begin to focus on the well-being of others around us; an awareness that when we respond to others with compassion, care, and humanity we make the Earth a better place for all.
No matter what a Governor does to us, or a legislature contemplates doing, or a major TV network of ideologues who have no interest in human dignity but only profit and power do we have some control over what happens to us. We can control what happens to us. We can refuse to give in to their hateful speech, their lack of respect for law, human dignity and the public good. We can turn to each other and comfort one another. Being on a picket line, in a crowd hearing fiery pro-labor speeches, protesting and contacting our leaders and expressing our concerns, are all healthy and empowering. We can rest and replenish ourselves on this quiet Sunday and be ready to help others in the days ahead.
For those of the Christian faith or any other of the major religions of the world, or even those who have a strong sense of ethics, having faith that providence or simply right will win out if we merely have faith is a powerful message. Jesus was telling his disciples to begin living in the Kingdom right then. It is a kingdom that denies power, profit, selfishness and greed, making a conscious and self-aware decision in favor of love, human dignity, compassion, and caring and justice. The demonstrations which took place all over the nation yesterday were overwhelmingly if not entirely peaceful, democratic, and empowering to the human spirit. Why not consider abandoning the profit driven life and taking up the spirit-led life for good and human justice?
Today, a higher authority proclaims that in the struggle for justice, having faith in that higher power, whatever it is that has created this world we live in, is in itself a powerful thing. It is empowering. No private corporation, or anything of human construction can prevail against this greater power. And this greater power is God. God is compassionate and loving and a caregiver to his people. It might be a comfort for us today to remember and to take this into our very hearts.