Because is Christ King, Don’t Worry November 24, 2019

Luke 12:22-34 Rev. Donald W. Hackett, D.Min.         

Centre Presbyterian Church New Park, PA

Faith Conversations with Children

Do you have a calendar in your house or room?  

Why do we have calendars? 1) To know what important event are coming up

                                                 and 2) what has happened.

We have been on a journey the past twelve months 

  • as we have traveled through the Christian Church Year. 
  • We have followed in the steps of Jesus as he was birthed in a stable, 
  • as he walked the dusty hillsides of Galilee, 
  • opened blind eyes and made the lame to walk again, 
  • as he taught the multitudes and the disciples, 
  • as he was crucified, and rose again. 
  • We have celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, reflected on the mission of the Church, and what it means to be a disciple of the Christ. 
  • Today is the last Sunday of that journey for this year. 
  • Next Sunday we begin celebrating Advent as we once again begin that journey to remind ourselves who we are and whose we are.

Today we celebrate Christ as past, present, and future King over all the earth, at the same time that we express our hope and our Faith in that coming Kingdom.

  • Do you know the most important place King Jesus likes to rule?  In our hearts. As followers of Jesus, we open our hearts and lives to Jesus so he can help us, heal us and shape us into his beloved restored children. 

Let us pray:  King Jesus Christ, you pour love in our hearts so we can pour love into the lives of others. In Christ, Amen

Sermon Introduction

Don’t worry, everything will be alright.  We have heard this before?  In a 1973 Stevie Wonder song, Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo4OnQpwjkc],  or a 1988 Bobby McFerrin song, Don’t Worry, Be Happy, featured in the movie, Cocktail [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Worry,_Be_Happy].  Even Bob Marley had these words in the chorus of his 1977 song, Three Little Birds, said: “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right. Singin’: “Don’t worry about a thing,’Cause every little thing gonna be all right!” [https://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/bob+marley/three+little+birds_20021728.html]

Background to Text

As fun as all those songs are, Jesus is the one who made popular the saying, “don’t worry.”  In a land rule by foreign Roman oppressors, where taxes were due at every turn, where the people suffered shortages and cruelties daily, Jesus said, “don’t worry.”  How could he say that?  It sounds so shallow at times. What did Jesus mean and how do we embrace that spiritual practice today? Please read with me the passage printed in your bulletin.

The Text – Luke 12:22-34 (The Message Translation)

He [Jesus] continued this subject with his disciples. “Don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.

Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more.

“Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. 

If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?

“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. 

You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.

“Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bank robbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. 

It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

The Word of Our Lord. Thanks be to God!

Unpacking the Text

What did Jesus mean here?  What gives him the authority to say the things he did?  What is our response as followers of Christ the King?  

The Context

The context of this passage is fierce political and theological debate.  On one side are the Hebrew priests and religious administrators who want to hold on to power.  They are threatened by the words and following of Jesus.  These leaders are on the attack!  Every little thing Jesus says and does is scrutinized for error.  When Jesus skips the religious hand washing ceremony, they accuse him of being spiritually unclean.  When he heals a mute man, they say that Jesus has power over evil because he is the prince of evil.   Everywhere Jesus travelled these Jewish leaders were nipping at his heels, seeking to take him down.  

Jesus Christ as King

Jesus does not ignore these attacks. When accused of being evil, Jesus He faces his opponents directly and replies:

And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.   And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. Mark 3:25-27

Christ is King.  This is the reality we proclaim this Sunday and every Sunday. Jesus Christ the King is the one who through his sinless life, sacrificial death on a cross, and bodily resurrection, has tied up the strong man, Satan.  Only someone stronger than evil can cast it out.  Jesus comes as the one, the only one, who is stronger than all the forces of evil.  King Jesus Christ has plundered the house of Satan.  What did King Jesus take out of Satan’s house, his control?  You and me!  King Jesus Christ has won.  We now live in his way of live, his kingdom because King Jesus has secured the freedom and future of his people. 

When Jesus was with his disciples he gave them clear instructions. Jesus pointed to false teachings and hypocrisy of the religious leaders.  He told them and us that it is not washing hands that makes us clean, but what comes from inside a person.  Hearts made pure by God and generous actions toward others is what connects us.  As we allow the Spirit of God to work in us, then the kingdom of God grow and spread to others. We can trust the words of Jesus when he says, “Don’t worry” because is King.  Jesus the Christ is the one who holds all things in his hands.  You and I are in his capable care. Christ the King wants us to trust him with the big and little things in our lives.

Trusting Jesus

How do we trust King Jesus with the details of our lives?  What will allow you and me to not worry but focus on what God is doing?

1. The way we sleep

A key indicator of worry is how we sleep.  If we are worried about something, we  often toss and turn and do not sleep well.  Typically if we slept well, we were able to put all those concerns aside for the night.  Sleep is important!  Good sleep equips you and me with the energy, focus, and positive attitude to face the new day.  When we do not sleep well, we become tired, ragged, and not fun. This is true for all ages and especially true for children and teens.  Listen to this findings:

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts. The AAP also found that getting adequate sleep on a regular basis can lead to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and mental and physical health. [https://www.presbyterianmission.org/story/if-we-build-it-they-will-sleep/]

Sleep is so important that there are non-profits like Building Beds 4 Kids in Michigan and Sleep in Heavenly Peace in Frederick, Maryland that work with churches and other groups to provide clean, safe beds for children, especially in the foster care system.  What great ministries! [https://www.wusa9.com/mobile/article/news/local/a-wonderful-blessing-volunteers-build-beds-for-kids-who-dont-have-any/65-eedb694f-33bd-42c9-b4cc-47c5ba048fa4]

Sleep is an important spiritual practice.  It is self care that provides you the ability to love and serve others. What helps you get a good night sleep?

  • Regular bedtime and sleep 7-8 hours.
  • No electronics, food, or drink an hour or even two before bedtime.
  • Reading (story time!), a devotional time, and journalling to wind down.
  • Asking forgiveness if you have hurt someone.
  • Making a list for God of things that are on your mind and offering them all up to God.

Sleep is an act of deep trust.  For 7 to 8 hours every night we are still, resting, vulnerable, and have stop engaging in the world. Every night is an opportunity to put yourself once again in the arms of Christ the King and rest deeply. 

2. The way we spend

Another indicator of our trust in God is how we spend.  Black Friday is coming.   It is followed by Cyber Monday, which ushers in a month of frantic spending of billions of dollars. Why do we spend money on so many things?  If we want to grow in our trust of Jesus, we learn not to depend on what we can buy to make us happy.  One approach is to pull back from the intense holiday marketing pressure.  Turn off the commercials and toss out all the catalogues and ads.  Instead of a lot of stuff, think about the people you love and give them priceless gifts this year.  The gift of time with your family or handmade expression of your love. I love it when my children have given me a personal letter for Christmas.  In the letters they reflected on what they have experienced, learned, and who they are becoming.  These letters overflow with gratitude and they are one of the best gifts a parent could receive.  

Living simply and giving simply is a spiritual practice that frees us to focus on all we already have.  Walks in the park, visits to the library, game nights, and attending community events can draw us closer together without spending a lot of money. Think about how this holiday can be even more special. 

3. The way we stress

Our reactions to stress show us if we are trusting God.  Do bills or report cards that come in the mail make you tense up?  Does the pressure at work of deadlines and budget cuts make your stomach churn? Stressful events are exactly that…stressful! We all have different reactions to stress.  Some people get angry.  Others get quiet and withdrawal. Some people get busy, go shopping, even eat or drink to deal with their stress. Whatever your reaction to stress is, know that Christ the King wants us to remember that he is in control.  Christ is King of all things. How we may react to stress does not have to be the last word.  Christ knows this world can be hard and that we suffer deeply at times.  What King Jesus invites you and me is to bring all our worries to him.  I love this passage in Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7 

As we pray, the Holy Spirit weaves our worries into a beautiful quilt of peace that as we come to rest and trust in King Jesus, that quilt envelops our hearts and minds. As our passage from Luke 12 reminds us, as we steep ourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. We’ll find all our everyday human concerns will be met.  

Let’s pray: Dear God, we know and want to trust that Christ the King will provide all we need and desire. Even on Black Friday. Even on Cyber Monday. Even Christmas catalogues come in the mail. Even when the stock market drops. Even when the crops fail and the tractor won’t start. Even if I lose my job. Even when my health fails. Even when my loved ones die…we trust you.  Hold us close each and every day. We pray in the name of Christ the King. Amen.