PENTECOST 12, C – August 11, 2013

SCRIPTURES – Genesis 15:1-6; Hebrews 11:1-16; Luke 12:22-34 

 Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing… all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. (Luke 12) 

 A few days ago Paul White, a divorced father of two who lives in Minnesota, found out that he had won 149 million in Powerball. At a press conference introducing him he said, “I feel this pressure off my shoulders. I have two kids. Am I going to be able to send them to college? Am I going to be able to pay for their health care if they have a problem? All of these things, gone! You don’t ever have to worry about them again.”

Boy, wouldn’t that be nice! After all, worrying about food and clothing and all kinds of other things has been our lot since Adam and Eve first noticed their lack of clothing. Of course, we have far less reason to worry about such things than did the people to whom Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life.” We don’t really worry about having food and clothing, but only about what kind of food we will eat or which of our many items of clothing we will wear. But, still, wouldn’t it be great to win the lottery like Paul White and not have any such worries… until you got terribly sick; or injured; or were robbed; or had a fire; or faced the loss of a loved one; or… one of any number of other things that no amount of money can prevent or cure. Worries? Paul White will still have them; and some will be ones which he never would have imagined.

Jesus challenges us, and also comforts us, when He says: “Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.” Whether you are poor or well-off, He is speaking to you. Don’t be worried about and focus upon the things of this life. Don’t doubt God, but trust in Him to provide what you need! People should notice this about you: that you don’t fret and worry. This should set you apart from those who do not trust in God.

But, how can we not worry, when sometimes we must struggle mightily to get the things we need, and other times have things quickly taken away from us? You must change your focus. Remember this: none of the things of this world are yours, even if you have worked hard for them and spent a lot of money and effort to obtain them. So, you own a car. Where does the gasoline come from which runs it? God put the oil in the ground, from which comes not only the gas but also many of the other parts of the car. “Consider the ravens, how God feeds them” – and everything else from the plants which He causes to germinate and grow. “God covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills,” says Ps. 147:8. Martin Luther put it so well in his explanation of the 1st Article of the Creed in the Small Catechism:
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.
God makes everything and generously gives us everything. “Your heavenly Father knows what you need,” Jesus assures us. He’s not going to forget about you or your needs! It is His good pleasure to give you what you need. Trust Him to do so, and do not worry!

It is only faith which accepts this, of course. Many people think that they are responsible for obtaining the things they have. None of us would have anything, however, if God did not give it. Do what you can and should do – work hard, spend wisely, and give generously – and trust Him to provide what you need. He wishes to do so! He will do so.

But then, above all else, seek God’s kingdom, the forgiveness and mercy and love of God in Christ Jesus. They are the true treasures, the real treasures which will last forever.

Thursday evening I went to the cemetery where my father was buried. It was raining a bit, as it was the last time I was there, the day he was buried. It’s a bit of a shock to see your father’s name etched upon a gravestone. Dad’s just a memory now, as are all the things he did in his life. Most of what he did and had is gone! This realization hits you at the grave. Then, as I pulled out of the cemetery, I saw in the sky a large, beautiful rainbow stretching across the sky. A sign from God! Yes, it is. The rainbow is more than just the sign of God’s promise to never again destroy the earth by water. It is His promise of life! The words of Jesus then came to my mind: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he die, yet he shall live.” My dad lives, for he believed in his Lord Jesus and was constantly in God’s house to receive the riches of His love and forgiveness. He lives with Jesus, and I will see him one day with Him!

This is what matters. All other things – even the millions of dollars possessed by Powerball winners – will pass away and be forgotten. God’s blessings of forgiveness and eternal life in Christ will never pass away. You must desire them above all and seek them above all. They are not hard to find. As He put a reminder of new life in the rainbow, so He puts the blessings of His kingdom before us. In the words of His Scriptures; in the water of your Baptism; and in the bread of wine of Holy Communion there is Jesus, and with Him all of God’s riches. Seek His kingdom in these gifts. Desire them and receive them, “by faith being assured of the things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1). He will count your faith as righteousness, and give to you a treasure in heaven, a place with the righteous in His kingdom!