May 8, 2005

Seventh Sunday of Easter

"Cast All Your Anxiety On Him"

(1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn


INTRODUCTION:

Open With Video: Incredible Family from www.sermonspice.com

I hope none of you are cringing. All of us would like to lay claim to having an Incredible Family. We admit that we have our problems but despite those problems and shortcomings we still want that incredible family. And we usually think our families are pretty incredible.

We all have problems in our families. Even God. And we can take comfort from the thought that even God had problems with God's kids. Remember the story in Genesis? After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing God said was: "Don't."

And Adam replied, "Don't what?"

"Don't eat the forbidden fruit." God said.

"Forbidden fruit? We got forbidden fruit? Hey, Eve . . . we got forbidden fruit!"

"No way!"

"Yes, way!"

"Don't eat that fruit!" said God.

"Why?"

"Because I'm your Father and I said so!" said God, wondering why he hadn't stopped after making the elephants. A few minutes later God saw his kids having an apple break and was angry. And said: "Didn't I tell you not to eat the fruit?"

"Uh huh." replied Adam.

"Then why did you?"

"I dunno." Answered Eve.

"She started it!" said Adam.

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

"DID NOT!!"

Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own. Thus, the pattern was set and it has never changed. But there is reassurance in this story. If you've persistently and lovingly tried to give your children wisdom and they haven't taken it, don't be too hard on yourself. If God had trouble handling children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for you? (1)

Today is Mother's Day. A day we celebrate the Christian ideal of Mothers and the Christian Home. I gave up doing long flowery sermons about the virtues of motherhood a long time ago. When I was young and naive, I hoped all other families were like Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver. But in reality, they're more like the Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond and The Osbornes than the 1950's idyllic family portrayals.

Do you know what the prefect family and the Easter bunny have in common? They're both a myth. Families and the people that make up families can change and be perfected. But there's really no such thing as a perfect family.

Unfortunately we aren't given an owner's manual when we enter into a marriage covenant. Or when have children. We have to learn from the mistakes of our parents, our own mistakes and from Scripture. And Scripture has a great Word for us today. A Word that will solve a lot of problems in our individual lives as well as in our families. A Word that will help us be better parents and better spouses.

Listen to what Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 (NRSV)

[12] Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

[13] But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed.

[14] If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.

[5:6] Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

[7] Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

[8] Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.

[9] Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.

[10] And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you.

[11] To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

For me, verse 7 says it all. "Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." This what we're called to do as individuals and most especially as parents and grandparents. We're called to "Cast all our anxiety on God."


I. TRUST:

A. Comedian Jerry Lewis said he once talked to his doctor about some of his problems and when he finished the doctor suggested, "Jerry, don't worry."

Jerry Lewis replied, "Doc, how do you don't worry?" (2) That's a good question. How do you "don't worry" about the kids and grandkids? How do you "don't worry" about their future; your future. Your job, their job. Your health, their health. How do you not dread? How do you not be afraid? THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT PETER WAS TALKING ABOUT.

The only real answer is Trust. You have to trust the second half of verse 7 very specifically in relation to your anxiety. The first half of verse 7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on God." And the second half gives the reason why. The second half of the verse says, "because God cares for you."

Notice, it didn't say, God cares for the whole world or God cares for the United States or Texas or Johnson County or even Joshua, Texas. Scripture says "Cast all your anxiety on God, because God cares for you." YOU.

It doesn't make any difference how rotten the day has been or how many times you've blown it at being a parent or being a child. It doesn't matter if you've been wrong or been right. It doesn't matter if you were the victim or the perpetrator. It doesn't matter to God, "because God cares for YOU." It's as if YOU were an only child in God's eyes.

B. There's an old story of an elderly woman who was so frightened by the possibility of an airplane crash that she would never fly. Finally, at the urging of her children in a far-off city, she nervously boarded a plane and flew to visit them. When she got off the aircraft, she was greeted by her family, who asked, "How was the trip?" She replied, "Well, I guess it was all right, I didn't put my whole weight down the whole time we were in the air." (3)

She didn't trust the plane and she didn't trust the pilot. But when you put your trust in Christ and put everything in Christ's hands, you are claiming the second half of this verse as your own. You are putting the full weight of your anxieties and worries in Christ's hands.


II. THROW THEM OFF:

A. Once you Trust completely, then you can THROW ALL YOUR ANXIETIES ON GOD. I use the word THROW because that's the real meaning of the word cast. The word is only used twice in the Gospels. Once here and once in Luke when it describes the Disciples on Palm Sunday throwing or "casting" their robes on the donkey carrying Jesus, to ride on. They literally threw their robes on the donkey, making a saddle. The donkey carried their robes as well as Christ. And God wants us to "THROW all your anxiety on God ."

In other words, God is willing to carry your anxieties the same way a donkey carries baggage. God is willing to carry your baggage so you don't have to. God wants to unburden your heart and soul and mind and spirit so you can devote your life to loving Him and loving your children and those around you.

B. Parenting is both good and bad. It has its moments filled with joy and laughter and it has it's moments filled with angst, trials and tribulations. We remember the high and the lows. the high's give us wings and the lows leave scars. And if not scars then strained muscles and a stronger faith.

Often times those hurts and scars break us but only because we haven't turned to the one who calls to share the burden of our journey. The one who has gone before us and prepared a way for us to go. Who knows the route and has prepared that route. The One Who mourns when we take our own way and then cringes at the unnecessary pain we experience.

This One Who continually whispers His love for us. Who calls to us constantly reminding us of that love, reminding us to bring all our cares and anxieties to Him and leave them at His feet where He can take them for us.

But how many times have we come with our laundry list of hurts and anxieties, our worry over our family, friends, job, faith, school, nation, neighbor, health. You name it and we can worry about it. We list them all. We lay them out one by one like we're packing for a trip and want to make sure we don't forget anything. And there they lay, right there in front of God. Right there in front of us. We feel light as air. We breathe easier. Our hearts and souls sigh in the relief of the burden of those anxieties. We see the delight in God's eyes that we've finally brought it all to Him. and God smiles.

All we have to do is turn away and leave the anxieties there for God to tend to. But what do we usually do? Sometimes without even a "by your leave" or a "thank you Lord" we gather everything up, put it all safely and carefully back into the suitcase of our soul. And then we drag it along with us.


CONCLUSION:

But that's not what God wants for our lives. God doesn't tease us like I do the kids when I say, "Give me five" and then pull my hand away. God isn't like that. God is like, well, sometimes words aren't enough. Sometimes we need words and music and pictures . . . .

Show clip: Lonely People from www.sermonspice.com

The truth is, there will be pain and struggles in this world. But remember what Jesus said in John 16:33 "In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!"

Our God is a loving parent who wants to hold us and cradle us like a loving mother or father. And in a very real and deep theological sense, God wants to kiss our boo boos, mend our broken hearts and spirits. And tell us that it's going to be all right. Come to our loving parent this morning. Really open up that line of communication. I promise there won't be any tracking bracelets. Trust in the second half of this passage so you can experience the first half.

"Cast all your anxiety on God because God cares for you."

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

______________________________

Bibliography

1. From Bass Mitchell, http://www.homiliesbyemail.com/Special/Mothers/motherresources.html

2. The Pastor's Story File (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), Oct 1991

3. Parables, Etc. (Saratoga Press, P.O. Box 8, Platteville, CO, 80651; 970-785-2990), July 1986

4.

Other References Consulted

www.SermonWriter.com (Copyright, Richard Niell Donovan, 2000)

www.SermonMall.com

www.deaconsil.com

www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermon.html (Richard Fairchild Lectionary Resources)

Homiletics, (Communications Resources, Inc., Canton, OH)

Lectionary Homiletics, (Lectionary Homiletics, Inc. Midlothian, VA)

Dynamic Preaching, (Seven Worlds Publishing, Knoxville, TN)

The Clergy Journal, (Logos Productions, Inc., Inver Grove Heights, MN)

Preaching Magazine (Preaching Resources, Jackson, TN)

Circuit Rider, (The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN)

The Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1953)

The New Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995)

Lectionary Preaching Workbook, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 2002) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Miracles, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1998) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Parables, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1997) SermonPrep Version.