Sermon on the Mount - Sermon #10 - Do Not Worry
Rev. April S Blaine, Given on Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 2nd Annual Alumni Sunday
What a joy it is to welcome so many of you back to a place that has been meaningful to you in a number of ways.
It is my pleasure and my joy to be a part of a great legacy in this place – and I am mindful every day as I walk these halls and when I represent this community in public – of the many faithful saints that have gone before me – people who have made space for ministry to be possible.
And all of you who have been a part of the great story of this place know, whether your connection dates back for decades or whether you’ve been here for 3 months. You know that being the church, living into this call to ministry as the Body of Christ – it is messy and it is involved and there are lots and lots of ways that we can be tempted to worry about how we will do the work, whether we will have the resources, and what others will think of us.
We as a people are well acquainted with worry.
Over the past few months we’ve been studying the Sermon on the Mount here at Summit.
Jesus’ words throughout this sermon have been challenging us to acknowledge our own blessedness and the blessedness of others – and to be changed from the inside out so that we are living out of a heart of love and our lives are following the call to be the light of the world.
In Chapter 6, Jesus begins to address all the ways we will be tempted to NOT live this way – our desire for others approval, our obsession with earthly stuff, and our tendency to WORRY about both.
In a gentle, pastoral tone, he says -
Do Not Worry
About what you will Eat or Drink or what you will wear
Seek the Kingdom – and all these things will be added unto you.
Sometimes – what we need most – is the reminder to worry about the important things.
As I hear stories about what has happened in this space for the last 59 years. I continue to be blown away.
This place, this community, has been making space for people to remember to worry about the important things.
Stories of how students came for lunch because they were worried about a meal.
But instead found the kind of relationships to shape them and direct them and guide them toward the most important things in life.
Stories about young people who came worried about finding a job – and discovered a new vocation focused on serving and community service.
Mike Casto walked into Lou Buckalew’s office in a rare moment of worry one day – “What’s wrong?” he asked. Lou, handed him a piece of bright red wood, and said – this is the color that the Austrian designers have come back with for our new organ – and tonight – I’ve got to talk to the Trustees about what to do…
Lou soon discovered his worry was unfounded – as the team moved ahead deciding that it was more important to make a bold and beautiful statement than to worry about what people might think.
Sometimes, we just need to remember to worry about the important things.
As John and I talked about this day – I asked him – what happened for you in this space?
He said – This is where I learned I could be myself and get away with it. I don't have to try to be somebody else.
Now, if you take a close look at some of the remarkable pictures of John across the hallway… you will find some clear evidence of this when you see the glasses he was wearing.
John also talked about the boldness he learned here – to speak out about political issues in ways that didn’t necessarily need to divide people.
Students who knew John well have told me about the ways that their lives were expanded - How they learned to see and hear the world differently.
To worry less about the things that were trivial – and to focus more on the things that really matter. To make their faith connect to the real world in a way that could actually bring the kingdom into the now.
Those of you who had the privilege of knowing Lou have told me that he made it a point to not micro-manage – to not be too overly concerned about the details –, which sometimes meant he was singing the wrong verse –
but he WAS worried when young women on campus were allegedly being sexually assaulted by student athletes… He and John were both worried when violence broke out in El Salvador and people needed sanctuary. Lou engaged these issues. He showed up at protests. And he and John – led the congregation to engage them as well.
I want to read the words that Lou said – 30 years ago on the day that this centrum was designated. When many of you marched down 16th Ave with your balloons and your banners in your choir robes and dedicated this new space –
As we accept the newness [of today], we cannot rest.
We shall be a people who will take the world’s oppressed and disinherited seriously; our prayers for them shall be our hands reaching into our pocketbooks. We shall be a people who will be concerned about the quality of life in our neighborhood, in our city, in our nation. We shall be a people who will do more than just lament about the sorry state of affairs of our society.
We shall be a people who will say to a neighbor or a friend, “Come with me. I’d like to share my church experience with you.”
“So in our case, dear friends, the easy part is over, the hard part is ahead. The hard part, the renewal of our congregation and of ourselves to minister in this world is where we go from here. May the wood, the glass, the tile, all this newness, be for us the symbol of our commitment to [this call]”
On the days when I am tempted to worry about the wrong things, I think of John, and Lou, and Chuck, and Whitie, and the many, many saints who have come before me.
People who struggled with the same temptation but managed to listen to the call to Seek first the kingdom of God.
But I also think about the children who are here today, about 7-year old Maria, who is learning to love reading and who is learning to believe that there is something inside her that is Strong and Beautiful because of her experience at Freedom School.
I think about Meghan, who came to this church to follow her call to ministry, to seek to be in a place where she could integrate her calling to be an advocate for a more inclusive church and where she could learn about what it would take to be a minister.
I think about Susan, who, though she might not like to admit it – is becoming a biblical scholar, is learning about Scripture and how it connects with her every day life and is finding transformation and challenge as she makes these connections and lives out her faith.
And I think about the many, faithful people of all ages – who are learning to discover in this space that God’s love IS actually for them. That it was always for them – and that they are blessed and invited to be the light of the world.
Sometimes you just need to remember to worry about the important things.
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God –
May this be the call we live into for the next 30 years.