Easter 7 A 2020 Zoom Sermon
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today we live in a frightening time. Not only do we have the coronavirus to contend with, the secondary losses are mounting up. People are worried about the future. Anxiety is on the rise. Questions such as “Will I have a job when all this is over.” OR “Will the youth be able to attend in-person classes in the fall” are on a lot of people’s minds. And the answer is “We don’t know.”
And these are not the only questions people have concerning the losses we have experienced the last few months. For many people, the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus is the hardest thing to wrap our minds around. Simply put, we do not know what the future holds.
Which leads us then to our theological concept this morning which is centered upon the theme “Our Worries and God’s Care.” And the first thing that I must point out is that God cares for each, and every one of us.
We see this in our Second Reading this morning which states “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” Verse 7
Our anxieties, and God’s care are indeed a match for each other. The text states that when we have anxieties, the thing to do with our anxieties is to cast them all towards God because God cares for each one of us. When anxiety begins to take over our thoughts, the reading today tells us to release them to God and then walk away trusting that the future is in God’s hands.
One definition of “cast” is “to toss or throw in a specific direction.” We are told to throw our worries, and our fears, and our destructive thoughts towards God so we can change the way we react to the negative events occurring in our lives. Instead of letting our anxiety control and hold us captive, we are told to toss our worries over to God.
Of course, this is easier said than done. I wish I could state that tossing my worries and anxieties over to God was always my first reaction, but it is not. Sadly, like most of us, I let anxiety come into my life and overstay its welcome. And I forget that God cares about us in all our troubles.
So how do we know that God cares for us? And the answer to this question is found in our Gospel Reading this morning where Jesus prays for us all that we would know the answers to the big questions in life. Listen again to what Jesus prayed for on the night before His execution.
Jesus prayed “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given to Him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave to me. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Verses 1b-5
In this text Jesus is praying for you and for me. When Jesus says things like “glorify your Son” and “glorify me in your presence,” Jesus is talking about Himself, but He is also praying for you and for me. Jesus prayed this prayer for our benefit.
Let us put this in context. Jesus prayed this prayer on the night in which He was betrayed. The hour had come. The hour of His death was upon Him.
Soon Jesus would be lifted high up on a cross. And He knows it. So, Jesus prayed to His Father, acknowledging that He was about to complete the mission to which He was sent.
And Jesus recognizes that the hour of His suffering is really His time of glory. The suffering Jesus will endure will bring glory to His name, and glory to the Father. And that is why Jesus prayed “Glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you.”
When we remember that Jesus had just spent His ministry among us glorifying the Father, He was revealing God’s true nature to us. By His Words and Deeds, Jesus showed us what God is really like, so we do not have to grope around in the dark, wondering who God is.
When we see Jesus, we see God. For the Son of God came to us from the Fathers side, He came to us in the flesh, to make God known. And it was in this way that Jesus brought glory to the Father. Jesus had work to accomplish, and now He was completing that task. Jesus prayed “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.”
Now, on the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus would complete His mission. In just a few short hours He would cry out, “It is finished.” And His work would be accomplished. He would soon be returning to the Father. And that is why Jesus prayed “Glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given Him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given Him.”
Jesus came to give us eternal life. This was His mission. This was the work that Jesus came to accomplish. Jesus came to bring us life. Jesus came to give us life freely, as a gift. Through the completion of Christ’s Redeeming we see how much God loves us and what He will do to protect us. Because we have eternal life, this puts all our worries, and all our anxieties, into the proper perspective.
Jesus has provided the answer to all the big questions in our lives. And so the question today is this, “What about the little issues that cause anxiety and worry in our day to day activity?” Does this text deal with these issues also? And the answer is yes. But only if we do not become so preoccupied with the smaller issues of life that we lose sight of God and His promises.
That is why Peter wrote “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Verse 5-6
My friends, it is important to know who we are. We are not God. Our Father in Heaven is God. But we are His dear children and He cares about us. God cares about us so much that God sent His Son to die for us so that we may have everlasting life.
If God cares for us in the big eternal things, God will also care about us in the smaller things. Remember what Jesus said about the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. If God so feeds and clothes them, will not God also feed and clothe you? Your heavenly Father knows what you need. Therefore, do not be anxious.
And yet still we worry, and today many people are frightened at what is happening in our world. The coronavirus has caused us much grief. But here is an idea to help you during this difficult time. Turn your anxieties into prayer. Every time you feel anxious about what is happening in your life take your concerns to God.
For example, pray like this. “Heavenly Father, I am beginning to worry about this problem. Help me to not let this worry overwhelm me. Help me to not give in to fear. Help me to trust in you, that you will take care of me, as you have promised. I know this is most certainly true; because you have given me life through your Son, Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ; that is what I mean when I say cast your anxieties on to God. As the Hymn “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” states “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. Oh, what peace we often forfeit; Oh, what needless pain we bear – all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Let us pray: God of grace, when we are frightened and alone, help us to trust you and cast our burdens upon you, that we may be upheld by your saving strength. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hymn of the Day: “What A Friend We Have in Jesus” ELW # 742
Prayer of the Day: O God of Glory, your Son Jesus Christ suffered for us and ascended to your right hand. Unite us with Christ and each other in suffering and in joy, that all the world may be drawn into your bountiful presence, though Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.