We live in an age of angst and anxiety. Nearly everywhere I look, almost everyone I speak to, seems vexed, fearful, frustrated, worried, or some basic variation on this theme. What about a job, what about the economy, why won’t the slow motion train wreck of the Eurozone ever end, what about the health even of our own American democracy which increasingly seems polarized and stuck, what about the future, what about Anglicanism, what about our parish”¦and I am guessing you could add your own items to elongate this list even further.
Yet the God revealed to us in Holy Scripture is Jehovah-Jireh, The LORD will provide (Genesis 22), and Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount reminds us that our Heavenly Father does quite well, thank you, for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, and of how much more value are we than they (Matthew 6)?
Our Lord wants us not to focus on ourselves and what could be coming or should be different but on Him and what is given as grace and gift.
We didn’t make ourselves, we didn’t make our friends and family, we didn’t make this day, we didn’t make our parishes where we worship. All of life itself, and all that eternal life in Jesus Christ means, is grace and gift. The Prayer Book has the opening individual devotions of the day begin “open our lips O Lord and our mouth shall show forth thy praise,” because simply to arise from sleep and be alive, and to have our Lord and Redeemer to praise, is a marvelous wonder to behold.
My early mentor when I first graduated seminary and began parish ministry, Charlie Walton, tells a wonderful story of a children’s sermon where he brought little ducklings as a surprise to show the children. They were all seated around him and he had a box brought in, and one could begin hearing noise and then””ta da””the box top was removed and there were expressions of joy and wonder at the ducklings. Father Walton went on to ask what the animals were and then he asked carefully if the children felt any of the ducklings they saw seemed afraid, anxious or concerned. Oh no, said each child who was asked. They aren’t; indeed they wouldn’t be. Why, asked Father Walton. Because their parents would take care of them all the children asserted. It was what parents did.
The punchline came when he asked the children if God cared more for them than the ducklings’ parents cared for their baby ducks. Indeed God did, said the children. Then Father Walton looked up at the parents of the very same children in the congregation and saw faces of formerly anxious people convicted by the truth of the lesson.
It is a teaching that never gets old, particularly in times like these. The Lord has, does and will provide. May he give us a greater awareness of the degree to which that is true for us in the days and weeks ahead.
–The Rev. Dr. Kendall Harmon is Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and convenor of this blog