2 before Lent – Wingrave Methodist Church – Sunday 19 February 2017
Old Testament Genesis 1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light ‘day’, and the darkness he called ‘night’. And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.
6 And God said, ‘Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.’ 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault ‘sky’. And there was evening, and there was morning – the second day.
9 And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground ‘land’, and the gathered waters he called ‘seas’. And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning – the third day.
14 And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so. 16 God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day.
20 And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.’ 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.’ 23 And there was evening, and there was morning – the fifth day.
24 And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.’ And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’
29 Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
New Testament Romans 8
Present suffering and future glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Gospel Matthew 6
Do not worry
25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 ‘And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Jesus challenges us — to take a position on wealth — examine our lives — live ‘other worldly’ lives — trust in God to provide. Difficult for many in this world.
Sermon on Mount — chapters 5,6,&7 — opens with Beatitudes — Blessed are poor in spirit — not desirable but assurance they will be especially favoured by God.
Chapter 6 starts — Giving to the Needy — 6:19 warns against building up treasure on earth (corruptible) but seek treasure in heaven (how?)
6:24 You cannot serve both God and Money — two masters
6:25-34 Today’s Gospel — Do Not Worry! — all very well, but how which of us are worriers?
· What is wrong with wealth?
· What should we seek instead?
· Can we be happy with the alternative lifestyle — even if we are born worriers?
Competes for possession of human heart — potential threat to God’s rightful place in our lives — diverts and displaces God — challenges faith by promoting self-reliance — = SIN
Food not unimportant — pray for DAILY BREAD then trust God to provide what we need not think we need. We who are denied little must not assume our brothers and sisters are similarly well provided at all times.
What of those who hunger or are cold? — most of audience in SM go hungry
· We have responsibility to provide for poor from our abundance
· We must seek God’s righteousness and justice
· We must care for Creation — preserving beauty of lilies of the field
· We have ever present fight against worldly possessions which constantly make us proud and threaten to derail our faith.
Jesus accuses disciples — and us — of being ὀλιγόπιστος — Ye of Little Faith — or weak faith
· 8:26 – Stilling the Storm
· 14:31 – Peter tries to walk on water
· 16:8 – Disciples forget to buy bread — compared to yeast of Pharisees and Sadducees.
Shifting focus of our lives to God — like telescope, pointing to objective prevents us being diverted onto our own interests — like Peter who must concentrate on Jesus or start to sink.
3. TRUST IN GOD
Not just to provide — but for everything
6:25-32 explain what it is to put worldly possessions before God — we lose trust in Him to provide — start thinking we can take care of ourselves.
If we have little faith in God — we can fill the void with worries and anxiety when we find the big problems and cares of our world seem intractable and we cannot provide any meaningful solution. We get overwhelmed because we are tempted to rely too much on ourselves and our misplaced pride.
Direct attention to 6:19-21
19 ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Keep in mind what you CAN do and what must be done instead by God — trust in God, give to those in need, and focus on building up treasure in heaven.
If we do, God has promised to take care of us — seeking His righteousness and justice takes over any thought of feathering our own nests. Is this not the real meaning of life?
Mother Teresa always kept big issues and challenges of life in perspective — “If you cannot feed 100 people, then feed just one”