Friday of Pentecost 9 – Luke 12:22-34 (35-40)   

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Have you ever noticed that every time an angel shows up in the Bible the first words that angel speaks are usually, “Don’t be afraid”? Have you also noticed that every time an angel says those words, it is a usually a pretty good time to be afraid or at least significantly concerned about what is going on? A couple of examples might suffice here: Gabriel shows up to a young Galilean peasant girl, announces that she is about to have a child out of wedlock. In conservative Galilean communities, girls could get stoned for that in the first century. Or poor Gideon is threshing his wheat in a wine press because he is trying to hide from the Midianites. “Don’t be afraid,” says the angel who then calls Gideon a “mighty warrior.” The guy is hiding in a wine press! Gideon will go on to face down the great Midianite host but only after God whittles his army down to 300 men. Nothing to be afraid of there!

I think the angels learned this from Jesus. “Have no fear,” he says, and then he enjoins us to sell all our possessions and give to the poor. I am glad of the treasure in heaven that does not get eaten by rust or moths, but what about dinner tonight?

There is no rational or logical way to arrive at the sort of fearlessness which the angels and our Lord urge upon us in this reading. There is only one way – the Spirit of God must give it. Such courage flows out of faith, that relationship with God through Christ in which He loves and cares for me. I have known people who had this fearlessness. They have bravely faced deprivation, humiliation, even death. I knew a fellow who once took on what looked like an impossible task, leading a Christian high school which was clearly failing. It was hard work. He had nothing to prove and nothing to gain, but much to lose, including a hard-won reputation. But with joy and gusto he jumped into that task and did good work. He told me that Christ was with him. He had no fear of failure or what anyone would say to him. He had Christ.

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