24 May 2008

Don't Worry About Food and Drink

You have one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father who loves you. Your Father knows your needs and well provides them. He feeds and clothes you, shelters and protects you. In a thousand different ways, He daily and richly gives you the bread that you need for this body and life — even without your prayer.

Do not worry, then.

When you worry about tomorrow; when you work yourself to death, attempting to make a life for yourself; when you neglect the people God has given you to love, in order to make money and get things; when you covet what God has given to your neighbor — in any and all of these ways, you serve another lord and master; you worship another god; and you forsake the life that is by faith, in exchange for the death which is the wage of your sin.

Repent of such idolatry and unbelief. Trust the Lord, the one true God, who has revealed Himself and given Himself to you in Christ Jesus. And do not worry.

God has given His own Son to die for you. Do you suppose that He will withhold any good thing from you? In Christ, God has taken you to be His own dear child. Will He not care for you, in love, far better and more than any earthly father or mother even can.

He feeds you; He has, and He will. He will not let you starve. He clothes you, too; He will not let you go naked. With such food and clothing, be content. What more do you need?

If there is far more that you want, take care that you do not make a god of that desire. If your heart aches and burns for that which is not God, for that which He has not given you, repent — and return with all your heart, soul, mind and strength to the Lord alone. Fear, love and trust in Him above all else.

The birds trust Him, even the young ravens which do cry. They were not created in His Image, nor redeemed by the Son of God in their own nature. In truth, they have been given a different vocation altogether than you are; though they do share the curse and consequences of your sin. Yet, they go about their lives without worry, and your Father in heaven feeds them.

He clothes the grass, too, which is here today and gone tomorrow. It does not work, but lives and blossoms by the grace and providence of God.

Now, then, you are worth far more than the birds. For consider the price that God has paid for you: His own dear Son, His holy and precious blood, His innocent suffering and death. Unlike the grass that whithers and fades, you are created and redeemed and sanctified, in body and soul, for the Resurrection and the life everlasting. So, if God cares for birds and flowers, as He does, then He surely cares for you much more.

But what does this mean for you? These Words and promises of Christ Jesus are precious and beautiful — but do they ring hollow? Do they sometimes seem to be an empty lie?

There are Christians in this world without enough to eat or drink, without adequate clothing to wear. There are Christians who are sick and in prison. There are Christians who actually do starve or freeze to death; others who are persecuted and martyred for their faith. And like the birds and flowers, too, Christians die eventually, whether from disease or "old age," whether from violence or neglect or atrophy.

Meanwhile, the grass may be here and gone, yet the grass has for now been clothed more gloriously than even Solomon. Shall you compete with that? Are you dressed better than a king?

And while the birds of the air may not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, God has given them their own vocations, which they perform according to His will. So has He also called you to work within your own station in life. If you will not work, then should you eat? (By the same token, if you see your neighbor hungry or naked, do not ask or wonder why God is not doing anything to help, but feed and clothe your neighbor in God's Name, as your brothers feed and clothe you.)

See, the "much more" with which your God and Father clothes you and feeds you is of another kind and quality entirely. To be sure, He does feed and clothe your body for a time in this world (and that by His grace and mercy alone). But sooner or later, your time on earth comes to an end; and even now, the ways and means by which the Lord provides for you may be more or less than your neighbor, more or less than the birds of the air or the grass of the field.

Look not only at nature, but all the more so and especially at the beloved and well-pleasing Son of God. What then shall you say? For He has hungered and thirsted, and He has hung naked on the Cross. He has suffered and died in your place.

Right there in His Passion, in His Crucifixion, is His Kingdom and His Righteousness. There He has entered the fiery furnace of your sin and death and damnation. He was planted like a seed into the ground, in order to be harvested in the Resurrection and gathered to the Father’s barn in the Ascension. So that you might die and rise and live with Him.

Thus it is by and with and from His Cross that God the Father clothes and feeds you with Christ.

In your Holy Baptism, He has clothed you with the beautiful and perfect righteousness of Christ (crucified and raised to newness of life), more glorious by far than Solomon or any earthly king; more than any grass of flower of the field.

Do not worry about what you will wear tomorrow, but seek to return to the white wedding gown of your Baptism each and every day. Thus are you clothed and not found naked.

So, too, does God your Father feed you with the Bread of Life, the Body of Christ, which is real food for body and soul, for life everlasting. And He gives you to drink from the Cup of Salvation, the overflowing Chalice which is the New Testament in Christ’s Blood, poured out for you for the forgiveness of all your sins.

Do not worry about tomorrow, but eat this day your daily Bread. Be satisfied, and live. You don’t know what tomorrow will hold, or if there will even be a tomorrow here on earth. But you do know what forever holds for you in Christ, because He is already putting it into your ears, into your heart, into your hands and mouth and body, by His Word of the Gospel.

Your body may suffer here, and it will die and decay; but your body will yet be raised and live, all glorious and flawless and healthy and perfect.

Here now set before you is the down payment on that life, the surety of the heavenly Kingdom, the foretaste of the blessed Feast to come: Take and eat. Drink of it, all of you. This is the Body and Blood of Christ, which is given and poured out for you, dear Christian. He or she who eats this Bread and drinks this Cup will live forever. And you shall not want for anything at all.

In the Name + of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 comment:

elephantschild said...

Thank you, Pr. Stuckwisch.