Sunday, July 6, 2008

Trust in God and Your Worries Will be Over!

I have wonderful memories of being a boy scout when I was younger. We would play all day long in the mountains of Colorado and then enjoy a relaxing campfire at night where we spent time telling stories and laughing at our own jokes. If I close my eyes, I can still see all of us sitting around the campfire; our smiling faces visible only by the faint orange glow of the fire that kept us warm. Beyond our smiles was the darkness of the mountain night air, and in the darkness lie our tents and sleeping bags waiting for us to retire for the night. There was one problem….

Very often we had sat down to enjoy a campfire before the sun had set so we had forgotten to get one very important tool…our flashlights were still in our tents which were by that time totally bathed in darkness. We had a choice to make: either sit and enjoy the campfire and deal with finding our way back to our sleeping bags in the dark later when the campfire was out and we were half asleep or we could run, now when we were awake and there was still a little light coming from the fire, and get our flashlight. I would like to think that these nights prepared me for my life but I still get caught off guard without my flashlight and I find myself in total darkness.

This morning’s Gospel is about total darkness; not the darkness of camping but the darkness of our souls. As human beings, we find ourselves in times of darkness with no hope of reaching the comfort of the light. At one time or another we have all felt this darkness. Some of us this morning might be feeling this darkness right now. It is about hope that the Gospel speaks about this morning: Hope in Christ that we can get out of the darkness.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is supposed to be Good News and too often we as Orthodox Christians get bogged down with rules and regulations about how to live the Orthodox Christian Lifestyle that we forget the Good News about Christ. As Orthodox Christians in America and especially during this time of economic uncertainty in our country – the ever increasing price of gas and the stock market resembling a rollercoaster ride – the question of our future financial security seems more important than when we’re supposed to fast from meat and dairy products or how many prostrations we’re supposed to do each morning. After all, if we don’t have jobs to buy that meat we won’t be eating it anyway. And now that we are in the thralls of a presidential election campaign, each night specialists on the news tell us that the worst is yet to come and America is set for decline and boy, should we be worried.

But Jesus asks, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6.27) We know from our doctors that stress is the number one cause of heart disease, and I’ve learned that here in the Pee Dee we have one of the highest heart disease rates in the county. We can’t afford more stress and doctors are ready and waiting, too many of them I believe, to offer us some magic pill to make everything better. But then there are the side effects of the pills. There has to be a better way… My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus is the way. Jesus is the answer to all our worries and our hope for the future.

Our future is with God in heaven! Our future is bright with the light of Christ rather than the darkness of uncertainty. Just as there was uncertainty in the darkness around that campfire, there is uncertainty in the darkness of doubt and anxiety. Jesus is the Light of the world, and whoever follows Him “shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8.12) And just as I had to choose whether to get my flashlight or not, we all have to choose; do we follow Christ or stay in the darkness?

I know…. you’re probably saying, “Come on Father, that is easier said than done. We have bills to pay! We can’t afford to not worry about how we’re going to put food on the table or how can buy clothes for our children who have already outgrown the new clothes we bought last year.” Christ says, “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6.25-26) The life of a bird isn’t easy. Birds spend as much energy looking for food than they do eating it and we will have to work for our food too. The difference between us the birds is that the birds work for the food for today without worrying how they are going to eat tomorrow. We on the other hand, never stop worrying. We never have enough for tomorrow or the next day or the next year.

Next year, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we may not be here. Why should we spend so much energy worrying about next year? What good will it really do us anyway? Just take a moment and think about where you were last year. Think of the things you were worrying about last year. Did it really make that much sense to worry? God knows our needs and He has promised to take care of them. Our job is to have hope and trust that He will do what He promises. If you want to talk about how to live an Orthodox life, you can ask me that later? Our job is to hope in Christ. The Gospel says, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6.33) Not some but all our needs. That sounds like good news to me!

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