Saturday, February 22, 2014

2nd Sunday before Lent Yr A

Don't worry about tomorrow!

If ever there were advice that is hard to follow at this time of transitions, this must be it!

Really, Jesus, you just don't get it, do you?

There's all the preparations for moving house – booking removal firms, telling all the official people that we're changing our address, working out what on earth we're going to do with all the books that can't fit into the new house and when we'll manage to get up there to paint the study....
There are all the preparations for the new job – learning about Cathedral ministry, learning more of the story of Coventry, reflecting on all the hopes of others and my own aspirations and inadequacies.
And most of all, there's that longing to leave here do everything I can to ensure that ministry carries on smoothly, that those who might need extra love and care don't feel I've just abandoned them, that wedding couples know who will be taking their service
And just getting on with the everyday stuff -with planning Lent services and Easter celebrations, checking on palm crosses and Lent course books...
I'm beginning to understand why you were the only one who ever managed to say “It is finished”
I don't think I'll manage my final departure that well, if I can't even organise my move from one ministry to another.
So – sorry, Jesus, but it seems to me that pretty much everything I do at the moment is shaped by worries about tomorrow.

And I'm one of the lucky ones.
If I'm honest, my worries are all about my “Wants” rather than my “needs”.
You would all cope perfectly well if I vanished this afternoon...the life and ministry of the church would continue uninterrupted, children would be baptised, the dead commended to God's care, the Sacraments celebrated....
I'm in no way essential – and all the other STUFF that is preoccupying me really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things at all.
So perhaps I can mange to learn “Don't worry about tomorrow”

But some things do need to be worried about – really they do.

This week our bishops, Michael and Martyn, were among 2 dozen who signed a letter that received a great deal of publicity in the national press.
If you didn't see it, there are copies on the table at the back of church.
It draws attention to those whose worry about tomorrow is all too real and pressing.
People, often working as hard as any of us, who don't know whether they will eat at all today....or who have to choose between eating and heating....
Ordinary people – not ne'er do wells or scroungers...people just like us, with the same hopes, fears, longings and dreams....who have been pushed to the bottom of the pile as our welfare system reaches breaking point.
That this should happen at all is a scandal in a western country in the 21st century – for we have enough for me to have TOO MUCH to fit into our new home – and we eat enough for me to need to sign up to Weight Watchers once again.
There's something very wrong in this situation, isn't there?
How can some of us have so much – and others so very little.

It's a political problem, yes – but it's also a spiritual problem for sure.
It seems to me that we are in danger of forgetting a key truth from our Old Testament lesson – that each and every baby born into this world, each and every human being is MADE IN GOD'S IMAGE.
So – each and every human being has both equal rights – to the basic necessities of life – and equal responsibilities – to ensure those necessities are available for all.
To seek the kingdom of God is to pursue a world founded on the principles of the great Commandments – to love God with heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbours – rich, poor, black, white, straight, gay, ALL our neighbours as ourselves.

There is enough in this world to meet the NEEDS of all
The wants may be rather different – and it's possible that we cannot have all that we want, all that we imagine we need, if we're to be serious in seeking God's kingdom.
But God's kingdom and his righteousness are not optional extras for us...
We can't just sit in comfort while our brothers and sisters, made like us in God's image, struggle with poverty, injustice, oppression.
We can't ignore the struggles of creation, groaning as it awaits redemption – while we exploit and abuse it. 
We may not need to worry but we do need to act for we are called to something different, something greater.

And living that calling will not be achieved by worrying about tomorrow – though the prospect of taking our calling seriously might well encourage worry in the short-term, we know that worry never gets us anywhere.

Instead, we are called to live lives founded on God's righteousness knowing that if that is really and truly our focus we can trust Him to carry us through so we too can play our part in making the Kingdom real in this place at this time.

Lent is coming.
May we use those days to restore our perspective, to recover our sense of what really matters so that with Easter may come resurrection hope for all the world God loves so much.

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