“Consider the lilies of the field! They neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” This is a political, social, economic and moral statement. (See passage here)
‘Consider’—more like ‘Behold!’—means pay attention to what is already around you. Open your eyes! Eureka! I’ve found it! We live with our eyes half open. Through routine, laziness, and prejudice we tend to overlook beauty, righteousness, grace and truth lying under our noses. ‘The lilies of the field’—those wildflowers that the multitudes are currently sitting on, those flowers that burst onto the hillsides every spring, bright with color upon color, these are the most beautiful things in all of the Holy Land. According to Mark, as Jesus was exiting the Temple, his disciples remarked on the size of the stones being used to build Herod’s Temple. Upon completion, it would be a significant marvel, larger and more precious than Solomon’s Temple. Jesus brushed aside his disciple’s awe over the size of the stones, even going so far as to predict its destruction. This Jesus—the one unimpressed with Herod’s Temple, the descendent of the splendorous Solomon—finds beauty in a common wildflower that was probably being crushed under his foot as he spoke.
I parked next to an Acura TL the other day. It was red with just the right trim. I thought: ‘when I grow up, I’d like to have a car like that,’ something to mark my success and worth in life. I don’t expect to ever own such a car.
God provides us with what we need. We need food, drink, clothing, shelter, love. You know, I hear this and I always think: ‘Not everyone has the food they need, the clothing to stay warm, the shelter for protection, the love to recognize their own value’. Recently, this passage in particular has miffed me: who is Jesus to tell me not to worry? Is it not enough that I worry, but now Jesus has to make me feel guilty for worrying? I worry about my daughter, despite her good health. I worry about my marriage, despite my wonderful wife. I worry about my career, despite God’s faithfulness to me thus far. I worry about my sick friend, despite my full belief in heaven and the many times I have witnessed real healing. I worry about the ordination process, despite recent progress in it. I worry about my sanity. Sure, none of this worrying is useful. But neither is it illogical. In fact, most of my worrying is evidence of something I love and hold precious. The worry is evidence of connection—something that is too rare in my life. Does Jesus understand being a dad or a husband? What did the mothers and fathers sitting among the lilies think of this admonishment? Why do I hear this as admonishment?
Beauty. We need beauty. We need things to please our senses. We need times of delight and pleasure. We need NOT so indulge beauty that we ignore ugliness, neediness, unrighteousness, lovelessness or hopelessness. We need to indulge that knowledge of good that Eve so wisely gave us, lest we believe that God is not good nor has created us to be good. We are less human, less in tune with the imago dei when we neglect this need.
Jesus throws a monkey wrench into the gears of the beautification industry—that conglomeration of retail, media and chemical outfits that gives away fear of ugliness so that it can sell us products for beautification. What if what God has provided is really all that all of us need? Talk about economic meltdown. We fought terrorism by buying bigger TVs. To save ‘our way of life’ and bring the society back from the brink of chaos, we need to help people get back to buying stuff we don’t need to fulfill a need that we actually don’t really have.
I reserve a corner of my heart for those men and women that have figured out how to live off the grid. I suspect that they make more connections by 9AM than I do all day.
To rely upon God and God alone. What on earth is Jesus thinking?
Page One is the first page I write for the upcoming week’s sermon. It is one page, stream of consciousness that gets me writing and reflecting on what I have studied thus far.