Newsletter May 2021 - First Presbyterian Ridgewood, NJ
As I write these words, I am preparing to plant pansies in some raised pots and beds around the backyard of the manse. I chose pansies because they are among those early spring flowers hearty enough to survive the occasional cold Jersey temperatures of April and May. And I have chosen raised pots and beds to ensure that I am not simply feeding the rabbits.
The welcome sight of these hearty, yet delicate, brightly colored flowers is a sure sign that the dreary days of winter and early spring are mostly behind us. And their beauty reminds me of a favorite passage from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the point he makes about worry:
“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.... 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?” (Matthew 6:25a, 28b-30)
While most of us don’t worry about having clothes to wear, that doesn’t mean we don’t worry. However, as I have been reminded by the pansies, Jesus encourages us to trust our worries to God and God’s care.
Are you worried about your health or the health of someone you love? Worried about your finances? Having enough for retirement? Worried about your children and their future? Worried about the challenges facing our nation, such unemployment, racism and our deeply divided politics? Worried about the pandemic or the health of the planet or the prospect of war?
Let’s face it. There is much that we can worry about if we allow ourselves to worry. But experience has confirmed for me the wisdom of Jesus’ teaching. And while praying about and turning our worries over to God does not guarantee that we will get our prayers answered in the way we want, it is often through such prayer that God shows us the way forward. It is often through such prayer that God shows us how we might be part of the solution to a problem. It is often through such prayer that God gives us the courage to make difficult but necessary choices.
And always when we turn our worries over to God, we can expect to experience the fullness of God’s promise found in the Letter to the Hebrews: “I will never leave you or forsake you.” (13:5) With that assurance, may we give God our worries and face the future with confidence.
Yours in Christ, Bruce