March 10, 2002
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
The Rev. Dr. Robert
Gospel: John 9:1-41
I tell you, do no 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 heavenly
Father 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
his 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 he not much more clothe you--you of little faith? Therefore
do no worry, saying, "What will we eat?" Or "What will
be drink?" Or "What will we wear?" For it is the Gentiles
who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows
that you need all these things. 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.
Matthew 6: 25 NRSV
I want to
talk with you this morning about the new national pastime. No, it's not
baseball or Monday night football or even "March Madness." What
I'm talking about is WORRY. Ever since September 11, the collapse of
renewed fighting in Israel, and the slowness of our country's economic
recovery, just about everybody's practically making a career out of worrying.
be interested to know that Jesus had a lot to say about worry. The bottom
line on what he had to say is just this, in a nutshell: "Stop it!"
In short, he comes out strongly against it. So, there you have it--our
Lord commands us three times to stop worrying. Don't worry, he says,
your life or your food or your drink or your clothing. Don't worry about
eating or drinking or being clothed. Don't worry about tomorrow. And
this morning, it seems appropriate for us to ask some questions about
First, what is worry? Well, a trip to the dictionary reveals that worry
is one of those words that can best be gotten at backwards--by considering
the things worry is NOT. Care is not worry--if men did not care there
be no love. Concern is not worry-- if men had no concerns, laid no plans,
there would be no progress. Legitimate fear is not worry--without legitimate
fear there could be no courage. When all is said and done, a prayer as
old as the Prayer Book puts it best: "Preserve us from faithless
fears and worldly anxieties." Worry then, in a word, is the opposite
of trust. In its impatience, it borrows trouble against the future. In
its lack of Trust, it sets itself up as God. In its negativism, it erodes
the human spirit.
precisely why it is a sin--if we are agreed that a sin is anything
us from God. Worry drives the wedge of distrust between man and God--the
wedge of competing gods between man and God and the wedge of presumption
between man and God. ...Worry
is unfaithful to hope and it is the greatest infidelity because it is
infidelity to the greatest faith.
can we do? To tell a person to stop worrying is like telling a baby to
stop crying--or an alcoholic to stop drinking. As a matter of fact, we
might do well to question our Lord's wisdom in simply saying, "Be
not anxious--don't worry." But when we do raise the question, we see
the answer. Jesus doesn't leave it there--he goes on from the three don'ts
to two very positive suggestions for action.
he says, "the things of nature--the birds and the flowers. They are
free of worry, yet are wonderfully cared for. If God cares that much about
birds and flowers--which, however lovely, are not very important in the
total scheme of God's plan for unity and reconciliation between God and
mankind--how much more does He care about you--you who have been made in
His image--you who have been called to be children of His--you who have
been entrusted with His inheritance. We need to focus on whose we are.
We are unique in all creation--able to know, love, and serve God. Our Lord
says, first of all, a careful consideration of your personal relationship
with God the Father is the initial step toward overcoming the sin of worry.
is a simple principle of physics. Two things can't occupy the same place
at the same time. If your life is devoted to doing the will of God, there
is no room for worry and all things necessarily will drop into place.
If you are doing your job right, you haven't time to do God's job. Let's
look at a single example: If I were asked to make a list of 20th Century
worries on the basis of my experience in ministering to people, I would
put at the head of the list, health--worry about being crippled, growing
many forms but the worry of the year is the fear of cancer. What can you
do about a thing like that? It's very real; it does happen here; it could
happen to you. How does Jesus' command help? It is just as simple as the
law of physics. If you put all your energy into living, you haven't room
to think about dying. God will figure out how to end your stay on earth.
It isn't your problem anyhow. Your problem is to make the stay count for
something. So often I see people approaching the final years so consumed
with worry about how and when they are to go that they may as well be
dead. They make such demands and take so much out of life without putting
anything back that there's no longer any point in their being alive. It's
a cruel cycle, but you've seen it and I've seen it, and the answer lies
right in front of them. All of us also know individuals who are ravaged
by illness and disease, but manage to bring light, life, and inspiration
to others. They use the little vitality left to them to witness to the
simple beauty of still existing as a child of God. "Seek ye first
the Kingdom of Heaven and all these things shall be added unto you."
There is no retirement age as far as the will of God is concerned.
even though we all succumb to its temptation, is wrong--a sin of prideful,
impatient, unfaithful dimensions. There is, however, a known and proven
cure. First, to consider our place in God's scheme of the Universe--to
look at ourselves as God sees us; to stop trying to do God's job and devote
every moment to doing the job He as given to us to do. All else will be
added unto you.
Let us pray:
loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things,
to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you
who cares for us: preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties,
that no clouds of this mortal life may keep us from the light of that
love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your
Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity
of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen (BCP, pg. 217)
2002 Calvary Episcopal Church
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked
him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born
blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. We must work the works
of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." When he had
said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread
the mud on the man's eyes, saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam"
(which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask,
"Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?" Some were saying, "It is
he." Others were saying, "No, but it is someone like him." He kept saying,
"I am the man." But they kept asking him, "Then how were your eyes opened?"
He answered, "The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and
said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received
my sight." They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now
it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then
the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He
said to them, "He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see." Some
of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not observe
the sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner perform
such signs?" And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man,
"What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened." He said, "He
is a prophet." The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had
received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received
his sight and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is
our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that
now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age.
He will speak for himself." His parents said this because they were afraid
of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed
Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his
parents said, "He is of age; ask him." So for the second time they called
the man who had been blind, and they said to him, "Give glory to God!
We know that this man is a sinner." He answered, "I do not know whether
he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see."
They said to him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
He answered them, "I have told you already, and you would not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?"
Then they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples
of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we
do not know where he comes from." The man answered, "Here is an astonishing
thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one
who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it
been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this
man were not from God, he could do nothing." They answered him, "You were
born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?" And they drove
him out. Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him,
he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered, "And who is
he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him." Jesus said to him, "You
have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "Lord, I
believe." And he worshiped him. Jesus said, "I came into this world for
judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may
become blind." Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him,
"Surely we are not blind, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind,
you would not have sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sin remains.