As temperatures rise through these long days of summer other things are rising if we pause to notice them, the bright orange day lilies that spring up everywhere and the beautiful yellow, black eyed Susans that fill the roadsides and median strips. Too often we drive by too fast to notice. We planted some black eyed Susans by our garage and they’ve spread to cover the whole flower bed. All we had to do was put a few in the ground and now they blossom in all their glory just in time for my birthday on July 31.
Preparing to celebrate my 70th birthday with our extended family, I sadly realize how much of those 70 years I’ve spent looking back on the past with regret for things I’ve done or failed to do and looking forward to the future with anxiety about what might happen next. The truth is that I can do nothing about the past and have very little influence on the future. When I retired from full-time ministry seven years ago, the hardest question the financial advisor asked me was, “how long to you plan to live?” We all hope to live as long as we can. But the more important question is how do we fully live all the days God gives us?
We can’t deny that we live in anxious times, dealing with political divisions, rising prices, violent crime, the threat of world war, climate change and a still deadly pandemic. But Jesus reminds his first disciples and us today that all of our worry about the future cannot add a single hour to our lives. Our worry and anxiety only keep us from fully living our lives with grateful joy for all the gifts God gives us every new day. The greatest gift of all is knowing how much God loves us.
Jesus reminds us, as God clothes the flowers and grass of the field and feeds the birds of the air, of how much more value are you than the birds! God values you more than all the flowers of the field and birds of the air that so delight us. Jesus assures us that God forgives our past sin to free us from regret and promises us an eternal future that frees us from worry, for us to enjoy the gift of this present moment, here and now.
So, in the long, hot days of August, I encourage you to begin each morning by opening the gifts God has given you; your eyes, your ears, your hands and hearts to appreciate and to share all that God gives you today.
Hoping to see you every Sunday. Summer Blessings! Pastor Bruce +