“You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.
“If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
“Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
“I do not love you except, because I love you; I go from loving to not loving you, From waiting to not waiting for you, my heart moves from cold to fire.” These are the delightful words of Pablo Neruda from his poem “I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You.” In this poem Neruda describes the love he has for his beloved. He fashions a love that is complex, mysterious, passionate, all consuming & transforming.
Many of us have heard one version of love, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.”
This is indeed love. In its most beautiful state love is exactly like this. It is this image of love that we strive for in our relationships. It is this kind of love that God reaches in to this fearfully, wonderfully made creation and reconciles all of Gods creatures in to a complex, mysterious, passionate, all consuming & transforming new way of being witnessed in the divine incarnation of Jesus the Christ. But many of us have witnessed love in ways that are not so wonderful ways. Love has hurt our hearts. Love has left us wanting more than other may be capable of. Love has shaped and formed or tarnished or destroyed what we experience as love. It is the fluid path between these two loves that Neruda speaks of, “I love you only because it’s you the one I love. I understand and do not understand my love of you and the measure of my changing love for you is that I do not see you but love you blindly.”
It is this kind of complex, mysterious, passionate, all consuming & transforming love, that fluid movement between the extremes of love that is at play here in our Gospel message today. “You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.”
We are faced with a decision here. We may serve God or we may serve money. We may embrace freedom in God or we may languish in the bondage of money. There is no way to serve both money & God.
Why can we not serve two masters? If we serve one and ignore the other we are in relationship with one and shunning the other. It is a matter of orientation. It is the orientation to which we govern our life that determines who or what we serve. Can one sail north in the same moment sailing south?
To serve God we must be co-creators with God, as God calls us to create, to be partners in creation. We create communities. Our communities are full of creation in which we participate. Our worship here is a product of our creativity and glorifies God because this space is imbued with our works as creatures of God, this is called LITURGY [works of the people]. We create to glorify God so that we may be nearer to God.
We cannot be certain that our creative actions are pleasing to God. We may be certain that it is our desire to do creative works that are pleasing to God that indeed pleases God. In this creative activity, the dancing of the Holy Spirit spawns new life and bears witness to the new being that resides in our awakened god consciousness that allows us to seek God in the here and not yet. It is in this awakened state that we can serve God as creative beings and live fully as we are called to be, as a community. Particularly, a community that is absent of division and full of diversity & abundance.
This stands in contrast to money. Money calls us to consume. We cannot create if we are focused on consuming. We cannot consume if we are focused upon creating. Where we fashion communities where all are creative in Gods created order, money demands there be division, a homogenous commonality & a marketable scarcity.
When serving money you worship by consuming. Consuming is to embrace a hierarchical structure that assigns value to God’s creation & our co-creative calling and demands that we produce so that we might consume. Consumption calls us in to a power structure in which there are haves and have nots.
There is no partnership with money, only total domination. If we chose to serve money we become bound by it and intoxicated by the power it promises. Much like the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness after his baptism, money is that modern day forbidden apple that is deceitfully placed before our lips that promises us control, knowledge & power beyond our wildest imagination.
Listen to the sobering words of Jesus, “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.”
We teeter towards the service of money and Jesus takes us to task.
Jesus says, Do not worry about LIFE. Jesus is inquiring of our anxious Spirit.
If we embrace that anxious spirit and worry about life can we add one day to our life? There was this older gentleman that took a class I was in during seminary named, Carl. Carl was in his 90’s. He was a kind soul, free from worry. He openly spoke of his death and the uncertainty that came along with death. I talked to him one day after class to try and glean this wisdom that allowed him to be so calm about death. He pointed to our Gospel message for today as his basis. He told me, “I just decided to make friends with death. There was nothing I could do but trust that God is gonna take care of everything. Well and God has done a good job of caring for me in this life so I gotta trust that when God tells me it’ll be OK, that it’ll be OK.”
Jesus says, Do not worry about FOOD. Jesus is reminding us of God’s Providential care.
Can we increase the crops in the fields with an ounce of worry? I used to shop at this one particular grocery store growing up in Los Angeles. I loved the international faire of Mexican, Asian and American flavors all hanging out together in one place. I also loved to go shopping here because there was a camp of homeless fellas on one side of the parking lot. I would drive to the market and pray as I went along that God would send someone my way that I could provide a meal for. God never disappointed and every time I arrived to the market I would be meet by one or two people that could use something to eat. I would invite them along to chose what they wanted and they would wander the aisles with me lost in thought, conversation & hunger. One fella asked me why I did this and I told him I just wanted to make sure people ate. He told me that he already believed in God. I told him that I was not trying to convert people. I just wanted to feed folks. He said good cause I was praying that God send me someone that need to be fed and God sent me you.
Jesus says, Do not worry about TOMORROW. Jesus is warning us about Over-anxiety.
My grandma was full of wonderful sayings. She would tell me, “Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it never gets you anywhere.” Do not torment your self. Do not invest your energy in fruitless endeavors! Today is full of complex, mysterious, passionate, all consuming & transforming love. Today is where the “here” reigns. That place of hope, where justice mercy, compassion & righteousness are just behind the surface. Tomorrow is the capital of the “not yet.” That place to which we witness justice, mercy, compassion & righteousness.
When we chose to serve God we cast our lot with today and that love imbued with creativity. When we chose to serve God we are being liberated to be who we were created to be. We embrace that mysterious love at the intersection of understanding, knowing & unknowing that Pablo Neruda speaks of when he says, “I love you only because it’s you the one I love. I understand and do not understand my love of you and the measure of my changing love for you is that I do not see you but love you blindly.”
When we seek God before wisdom you awaken reconciliation in our heart. Where by the waters of baptism we embrace that which we are in Christ and shun the world calling for us to turn rocks in to bread.
When we love God for the sake of loving God we lose our self in the dynamic wonder of the Kingdom of God. Where yesterday, today and tomorrow reign. When we love blindly the God that calls us to create we fashion a community that beckons to all those words we offer at the Table, “Take and Eat & Do So In Remembrance of Me.”
When we chose to serve God and forsake fashion for provision we awaken to a way of life where what we need is meet with what we want in joy. That there is abundance in this world for all.
We are called to serve God in this abundance. We are called to be the arms, the feet, the hearts & the hands of God. That we may not fall to the idol hands of money and greed but be ready in the spirit and enduring the race in service to Jesus the Christ proclaiming his death until he returns. “[We] do not love you except, because [We] love you; [We] go from loving to not loving you, From waiting to not waiting for you [our] heart(s) move from cold to fire.”