September 30, 2018 — Rev. Paula Norbert
I’d like to begin by reading some passages from Matthew’s Gospel, chapter six. We hear the words of Jesus as he speaks to those gathered about the burden of worry and he invites us into a spirit of calm reassurance that even on the most difficult days, God walks with us.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.
30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
31 So do not worry…But seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Several years ago, there was a song by Jason Mraz that had this line as the refrain, “I won’t worry my life away.” I’ve heard that worry is a learned behavior and so if we come from parents who are worriers, we tend to worry more often than others. I have to imagine that worry has biological roots as well, for we are hard- wired to react to situations that may pose a threat to ourselves or those we love. As evident in this reading from Jesus and certainly countless writings in the Old Testament/Hebrew Scripture and from the time of the Buddha, worry has been part of the human experience throughout history.
Some are able to manage their worry better than others and some lie awake at night with heavy hearts, worrying about those they love. In our current times, and as we are bombarded with sad news from around the globe, it is hard not to worry, and yet, as Jesus said, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” The Buddha offered a form of meditation to help quiet the inner mind in times of suffering and worry. Over the centuries, the practice of monastic silence, of centering prayer and other forms of prayer have been practiced and shared by religious communities in an effort to quiet the mind, the heart, the spirit and to find ways to connect more closely with God.Over the summer, I had the pleasure of working with our church member, Katherine Blaxter on both an adult and children’s program where she shared some wonderful ideas on mindfulness, meditation, and breathing that may bring calm to the deepest places within us.
Today, I have invited her to share briefly some approaches that each of us may find useful as we go about our days. We understand that some of this may not be in everyone’s comfort zone, and so we invite you to participate if you would like, and if this is not something you would like to try, we invite you to spend time in quiet reflection at your seat.