Greetings Brothers and Sisters,
Hope you enjoy this talk which formed part of a family service and I followed once again an excellent puppet sketch courtesy of Rhoslyn Cooper and her wonderful helpers based on the same gospel reading. Of course you can pick up some of the atmosphere (or Holy Spirit) by listening to the talk. Just clicking on the attached link should get you there?
As always, feedback via comments would be really helpful, especially if any of my message spoke to you directly?
Sermon No 63
Don’t Worry (About a Thing)
A sermon preached by Roger Laing (Parish Evangelist) on Sunday 17th September 2017 at the 10 am Family Service at St. Paulinus Church, Crayford, Kent. (Based on Luke 12:16-30)
Well good morning to you all. And let me just say that Joey and Julia are not the only ones that can crack a couple of jokes you know…. So a couple of biblical ones for you!
Did you know which vegetable Noah left of the Ark during the flood?
What about this one then if you thought that was bad.
As it is nearly Christmas (only 98 days to go people!)
What did Adam say on the day before Christmas?
‘It’s Christmas, Eve’
And one for Justine and Natalie and all our after- service refreshment helpers.
How does Moses make his coffee?
Anyway, enough of the funnies, we don’t come to church to have fun, do we? God would rather us be miserable!
Well, today we are celebrating Harvest and all the good things that God provides for us in our daily lives and in particular food. Which is something most important because we need food to live don’t we?
But sometimes we are a bit over indulgent both as individuals (and I place myself in that category as my waist line implies) and as nations too, when we could do well to share our riches with other well less off countries and their peoples.
Especially as the United Nations Food and Agriculture estimate that there are around 795 million people, that is 1 in 9 men, women and children suffering in the world right now from chronic undernourishment, so Harvest is a really important time to remember, not just today, but at all times of the year.
In our gospel reading today we heard Jesus telling a parable about a rich man who on the face of it appeared to be doing something that was quite sensible because he had had a particular good harvest and had so much grain that he didn’t have enough storage room in his existing barn to store it all. So, he decided to build bigger barns so that he could keep his plentiful harvest and then be able to live of the riches for many years.
Now you might think, well what is wrong with that? But you see Jesus wanted to make a point. He wanted His listeners to understand that the rich man had made one fatal error in his thinking.
The rich man had left God out of the equation and was thinking only about himself and how he would live happily for years to come, eating, drinking and making himself rather merry in the process.
So contrary to what some might see as preparedness, Jesus’ message in the parable was more about encouraging us to share our wealth with others, rather than keeping it all for ourselves. Indeed, the obsession with money and material goods is ever present, in-fact probably more so in today’s society with all the temptations through clever advertising.
The story of the rich man and his building of more and bigger barns to store his crops will never fade and is an important reminder for us all to be on our guard against any form covetousness, and the desire to possess more and more.
Jesus’ tells us that our life will not ultimately depend on either food or material goods. Of course, we need food and water to survive and there is nothing wrong in planning and preparing for days when we might have less, but as usual, Jesus wants us to look deeper to the way we are living our lives and in particular with the way we see and treat others.
Our true treasure at the end of the day will not be in how rich we are, or how big our houses might be. Our treasure is in the way we live our lives for Jesus and He asks us to build that up, rather than storing things away through greed and desire which may be of no use to others.
And the other aspect to this of course is what I spoke about a couple of weeks ago, when I reminded you that none of us actually know when our last day on this earth will be? Well Jesus is enforcing that point here in that parable. He wants us to live for today and not to worry about what may happen tomorrow. For He says that everything we need will be given to us, and it is only through not trusting in Him to provide those needs, that worry and anxiousness will begin to fester and eventually rule our lives.
And on this subject of worry and anxiousness, it is interesting to realise, that as the world appears to drift away from the teachings of Jesus that far from the possession of material goods and all the new fan dangled gadgets taking away worry and stress, it seems to have the opposite effect.
In-fact the current figures say that twenty percent (20%) of people today experience symptoms of depression. And ten (10) times more people suffer from major depression now than in 1945. One report even says, and I quote, ‘At the rate of increase, it (that is clinical depression) will be the second most disabling condition in the world by 2020, behind heart disease.’ (www.clinical-depression.co.uk)
Now that is a staggering forecast of what is to come in the next few years. This is not debateable climate change forecasting over many centuries, but this is factually just three years away on the present figures… frightening.
So, what can we do about it. What could the ‘rich man’ have done in our parable?
Well Joey spoke about it a few moments ago when he said that, ‘God really likes people that share!’
And indeed, He does, Jesus wants us to share what we have with others that are less fortunate than ourselves. And I think Jesus would be really pleased that Joey will be giving some of his money to our away giving charity ‘Mission to Seafarers.’ And I would encourage you all to give as generously as you can, for it is indeed a great charity.
But our giving should not only include the giving of cash to charities and material goods to initiatives like our deanery food-bank programme, Jesus also wants us to focus on the giving of ourselves to Him, through time and service to others.
And symbolically we can remind ourselves of this act of giving and sharing by coming together in the Lords Supper by the breaking and sharing of His body and Blood.
For that after-all was His greatest gift to us; when He gave his own life to allow us all to share in a part of Him until we meet Him again in glory.
But we heard too today in our gospel reading, something that Joey and Julia picked up on, and that was that Jesus tells us not to worry about how we will be able to live, as we act out this giving of ourselves in His service, because He will look after us and ensure that we will have absolutely everything that we need in this life.
And should we ever become a little worried or anxious then don’t immediately seek solace and recovery through prescription drugs or counselling. For Jesus asks us to just simply look at the flowers if we are in ever doubt about how we can carry on, by watching and seeing how they grow and flower, for He alone provides all that they will require to flourish, and He will do the same and much more for us.
Or if the flowers don’t provide enough wonder for you, then Jesus asks us to consider the ravens, those birds that ‘who neither sow or reap’(v24) yet He provides all the food that they need to survive too.
What Jesus is asking, could really be summed up in verse 31, which unfortunately is the one just after our reading today ends, and if you flicked to that verse in your bibles you would find these words,
‘But, seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you’(v31).
And those words in summary are what Jesus is telling us to do. To ‘Seek Him’ first, before, and above anything else. In-fact if you recall the very first commandment given to Moses way back in that dusty Old Testament. It was ‘You shall have no other gods before Me’ (Deuteronomy 5:7 NKJV) and then again this is clarified once again by Jesus in Matthew’s gospel when He is asked by one of the Pharisees, ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment?’ And Jesus replies, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37)
Seek the Kingdom of God first, and everything we need will be given to us.
In -fact there is a song that you will probably all be familiar with that tells us just that called, ‘Seek Ye First’ the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness’ written by a lady called Karen Lafferty and is a great message song about this most important of biblical and Christian truth.
However, after putting God first, another message song which also happens to link nicely with Jesus’ command of ‘not to worry’ is a song by that great reggae singer Mr Bob Marley called ‘Three Little Birds.’
Now I don’t claim to have a vast knowledge on Bob Marley’s life or his songs, but from the limited research that I have done I was surprised to find that a year before his death, what seems to be a little-known fact is that Marley converted from Rastafarianism to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian Church where he was baptised on the 4th November 1980 six months before his death on 21st May 1981. And when he was buried, you might be interested to know, he had with him his bible and his Gibson guitar! (journeytoorthodoxy.com)
Strangely too, Bob Marley’s final words to his son Ziggy just before he died were, ‘ Money can’t buy life.’
Now the song ‘Three Little Birds’ has some simple lyrics but seem to echo those of what Jesus spoke and it went like this: –
Don’t worry about a thing
Cause every little thing is gonna be alright
Singing, ‘Don’t worry about a thing’
Cause every little thing gonna be alright.
Rise up this morning
Smiled with the rising sun
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singing sweet songs
Of melodies, pure and true
Saying’ (this is my message to you’)
(Three Little Birds lyrics copyright Kobalt music publishing Ltd)
So, I will leave you this morning with this song (technology permitting) to take away. Sing along with it if you wish. And don’t worry, ‘cause every little thing gonna be alright! But seek the Kingdom of God first.