July 16, 2017
Anthem: Put a Little Love in Your HeartJohn Christensen, voice/guitar
Grace and Peace to you. Grace and Peace.
The year was 1997. The year I graduated seminary. The year Mary and I started dating. That year my dad bought a car. Dad asked mom if he could borrow her side of the garage for six weeks or so to work on it. Six years later, he built a garage in the back yard to continue the work.
See, it wasn’t just a car. It was a 1952 Jaguar XK 120 coupe. Cream color. Biscuit interior. Not a straight line anywhere. All curves and British racing influence. He and his buddy worked on the car for the next 15 years or so.
Like many projects, when you are 90 percent done you are halfway there. Well, dad’s helper wasn’t able to help much anymore. So, the project stalled for a few years. The final things that needed fixing required a caring professional, so dad took it to a garage. Somebody who works on high end, nice cars. The goal was to get it finished, and then to sell it.
In 1952, only about 1,300 of these cars were made. I can remember being home and about seven of us took the body of the car carefully off of its saw horses and braces and carefully carrying it over and lowering it onto the chassis.
My first week in Chicago this summer, Mary and Mira were with my folks at the beach. And when everyone got back to Tennessee, my dad told my mom he wanted to call the garage and see how things were coming along. Just then, the phone rang. It was the owner of the garage. “Dave, I have some tragic news.”
There had been a fire. The whole garage and all the cars in it had been damaged. Dad could not go in and see it because the fire inspector had not finished yet. All he had was the garage owner’s description of the paint turning brown from the heat. The garage owner was hoping against hope it was not totaled.
But it was. The wood paneling had pulled up. The paint was bubbled. The aluminum had powdered. It is on its way to the scrapyard.
I heard the news in a text from Mary and I called home on my lunch break to see how dad was taking it.
He was surprisingly good. You see, for him the good of the car was the fifteen years or so of working on it with his friend. These last steps were already a part of the process of getting rid of it. Yes, he is sad. But his heart was not in the car the way it was when they were finding rare parts online and ordering ancient instruction manuals to know what to do with the parts once they found them.
He feels the loss. But he has not lost his heart.
Do not store up treasures on earth, where moth, or rust, or thief, or fire can steal them. Where your heart in, there your treasure will be also.
I believe this has a lot to do with what we mean when we say Enjoy This Life. It has to do with what we treasure, with whom we treasure. And it has to do with what we worry about.
I don’t know about you, but I worry. I am worried about our nation and the political divides we seem to love so much.
I am worried by the wars we are still involved in, including Afghanistan, the longest running war in United States history, that seems to be all but forgotten by the right and the left these days.
I am worried about my family, my kid, our health.
Any other worries out there? (pause for answers)
If you are familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, he says that we need the basics: food, water, clothing, and shelter. We cannot do much else unless those are supplied.
Anybody here worried about these? Anybody got dietary issues that mean you have to read the menu carefully? Anybody know someone with a problem with drinking? Yeah, we worry about these don’t we?
Once we have the basics, we need safety and security: physical safety, financial security, health and wellbeing, and a safety net in case bad stuff happens. Anybody else worried about the state of health care, the state of insurance, the fact that we constantly confuse the two?
If these the needs of our bodies and our security are met, then we need to belong. We need friendships, and relationships, and intimacy, and family. Anybody worried about relationships, family, intimacy?
If we have our bodies taken care of, and our safety and security taken care of, and our relationships taken care of, then we can talk about feeling good about ourselves and becoming who we are meant to be.
He starts with the most basic needs: Food, water, clothing. He says, “Do not worry about these.”
Have you ever stopped worrying about something because someone said, “stop worrying about it?”
“Do not worry about your life!” Thanks Jesus. I guess I won’t worry now…
Seriously, has anyone ever stopped worrying because someone told you to?
The only way I see this working is if I trust the person who told me not to worry more than I trusted my worry…
Brian P. Stoffregen reminds us that the “you” here is plural. “We” are called not to worry, and “we” are called to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness. These are not solo sports. We are not alone in our worry, but are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
He also points out that the verb here for “to strive” is in the present tense. This means that striving after God’s kingdom is not once and done, but something done now and continuously.
God knows what we need. As a people, as a community, as a church. If we spend all of our time worried about all of it, how are we any better off than the Gentiles, the ones who have no clue that God is loving and kind and generous.
The cure for worry is not to tell each other not to worry. Worry makes us all hard of hearing anyway.
No, the antidote to worry is to remember that God does the heavy lifting.
- God sends the rain and the sunshine
- God makes the seeds open and the plants grow
- God gives us the abundance of the earth to supply our needs
- God gives us communities of care that surround us with love when we have none of our own to give
- God gives us all that we need to do and be what God calls us to do and be
If our heart is set upon our worries, then all that we treasure will be spent to try and satisfy our worries. But if our hearts are set upon the life to which Jesus calls us, the love by which Jesus heals us, the joy of knowing that God is doing the heavy lifting, then our treasures will serve those around us, and life will be a joy.
- When we worry, we just remember, God does the heavy lifting.
- When we hurt, in body, or mind, or spirit, we just remember, God does the heavy lifting.
- When we side ourselves with our neighbors against peoples’ prejudice or fear or anxiety, we just remember, God does the heavy lifting.
- When we sit with our grief, our broken hearts, our loss, or the grief of our loved ones, we remember…
- When we get wrapped up in the news on TV and cannot see a way to a more humane and more compassionate tomorrow, we remember…
- When we run up against our limitations, we remember….
- When we want to enjoy this life, even in the midst of seeking how to faithfully live compassionately in a world of fear, we remember…
Thanks be to God.