Gospel Lesson MATTHEW 6:25-34
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Abba God feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will God not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” Those without faith strive for all these things. God knows everything you need. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.’
Anybody else having trouble sleeping? I fell asleep quickly last night, but then woke up about 1:00 and worried until I drifted back asleep at 3:00… wondering if and when the shelter-in-place order would come… and trying to figure out what that will mean for Allen, Mom, and me, for our congregation, for the seniors at Battery Park, for people without homes, for children who now are home with their families 24/7, some in homes that aren’t safe.
I also worried about what we would do in this prayer service. I worried about the technology. I worried about excluding folks who aren’t on Facebook. I worried about, as one meme put it, how not to look like I’m in a hostage video while leading the service. Have I mentioned that I have a spiritual gift for worry?
Somewhere between 1 and 3 this morning, the verses I just read came to me: “Do not worry about your life.” Sometimes, God’s not so subtle. But surely, it’s okay to worry now, right? If ever there was a time for worry, this is it, right?
Some other words came to me in the wee hours this morning–a line spoken frequently by Patel, owner of a dilapidated hotel in India called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. In a movie of the same name, several elders from England have come to stay in the hotel. Every time a guest complains–no phone service, no water–Patel tells them, “Everything will be all right in the end. If it’s not all right, it is not yet the end.”
I find comfort in Jesus’ words in Matthew. I also find comfort in Patel’s words. They remind us that things might be uncomfortable, inconvenient–and worse–in the coming days and weeks. But where we are today need not be where we end up on the far side of this pandemic. If we keep working, if we keep looking to the ways God provides for even the smallest creature, if we re-engage with creation, as Jesus’ words invite us to do…if we do these things, then, perhaps, just maybe, we can create an ending in which everything IS all right.
A week ago, I got a note with the subject line: “All is well????” I’m not sure, but it might have been in response to the sermon where I told the story of Julian of Norwich, who in the midst of the Black Death, had a vision of God saying, “All shall be well, all shall be well, all manner of thing shall be well.”
Julian’s line was a 14th century precursor to Patel’s. To say that all shall be well is not to say all is well now…not at all. But saying the words, “All shall be well,” especially when things aren’t well, is a way of saying, We’re still working on it, we’re still hopeful about where this journey might lead, we’re still alive.
So…all might not be well now. Right now, all might be chaotic and frustrating and downright scary. But, if we keep working on it, if we continue reaching out to nature, if we keep reaching out to each other, if we keep remembering that God knows our every need and is with us every minute of every day…if we do these things, then it just might be that everything will come out all right in the end.
All shall be well. All shall be well.
Even in the darkest night, All shall be well.