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The Resistance Prays

January 1, 2019
By Rev. Alexis James Waggoner

Today's Top Story
The New Yorker came up with a set of rather tragicomic headlines that, we hope, predict 2019 only ironically. Among them: Mueller Rushed to Hospital with “Nerve-Agent-Like” Symptoms; Trump, Livid Over Media “Obsession” with “Fake Mueller Poisoning,” Retaliates by Urging Rally Fans to Cough, Sneeze on Members of Media; Told of Recent Developments, Mueller Asks Doctors to Medically Induce New, “Permanent” Coma; and so forth. The point is, we don’t know what 2019 will bring, but it’s probably wise to be prepared for anything.
[Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 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!…For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and [God] knows that you need them. Instead, strive for God's kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  - Luke 12:22-24; 30-31
No Worries, But Responsibility
The beginning of the year is a good time to refocus, to remember what we’re striving for, to remind ourselves that worry won’t add a day to our lives — but also that a lack of worry doesn’t absolve us from manifesting the kingdom on earth. 
  • Until I re-read Luke 12 this morning, I forgot that these two admonitions go hand-in-hand. We are not to worry, but we are to strive for God’s kingdom. How often have you heard these two spoken about together? I know I’ve most frequently heard, read, or seen the prohibition against worry as a stand-alone teaching.
  • By itself, encouragement not to worry almost sounds like it lets us off the hook for enacting change, but when we read the whole passage it becomes clear it’s quite the opposite. When we refuse to allow worry to have a foothold in our lives, it frees us up for a different kind of striving, a striving after the kingdom that is far more important and effective. 
  • By itself, a lack of worry sounds almost indulgent. I couldn’t imagine telling someone who’s concerned about where their next paycheck is coming from not to worry. I couldn’t imagine telling someone fighting an illness not to worry. I couldn’t imagine telling someone in the midst of grief and depression not to worry.
  • I would much rather preach a gospel of a God who suffers with us, who needs us to work in the world so that our worry becomes a thing of the past. 
  • I’ll be honest: I feel like there are a lot of things we could worry about for 2019 — and many of them are likely valid issues for concern. But if we reframe our mental, emotional, and physical energy toward acting justly in the world, our worries may not loom as large. And perhaps that’s the secret to banishing worry.
On this day of refocus, and perhaps even of goal-setting, identify things that are causing you worry. Are there ways to work for the kingdom that would reorient your energy toward action and away from existential dread?
God who knows our needs and sees our worries, we thank you for your provision from year to year and age to age. As we look toward a new year, prepare us for what lies ahead and give us the endurance we need to strive for your kingdom. Amen
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