Matthew 6:24-34 “Fragile Things”
February 27, 2011 – Caitlin Trussell
Cross of Glory Lutheran Church and House for All Sinners and Saints
Matthew 6:24-34 “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?’ or “What will we drink?’ or “What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Money is a fragile thing. It comes, it goes, sometimes it comes in quantities that exceed anyone’s expectations and sometimes it doesn’t come at all. Money gains interest, it depreciates, it profits, it falls short. Money makes the wealthy and defines the poor. Money feeds people, money hydrates people, money clothes people. Money inspires people to great heights and lures people to desperate acts. Money is an instrument of great generosity and the object of intense greed. Money builds schools and money builds prisons. Money provides a service and money also demands to be served. Money lives. Money is powerful. Money dies.  God knows that money is a fragile thing.
A creature is a fragile thing. Creatures come, creatures go, sometimes they exceed everyone’s expectations and sometimes they don’t. Creatures include the wealthy and the poor and everyone in between. Creatures need food, hydration and clothing. Creatures are inspired to great heights and creatures are lured into desperate acts. Creatures are instruments of great generosity and the seat of intense greed. Creatures build schools and creatures build prisons. Creatures provided services and creatures demand to be served. Creatures live. Creatures are powerful. Creatures die. Creatures worry. God knows that a creature is a fragile thing.
This past Wednesday, I was parked across the street from my daughter’s school to drop her off. I watched her push the button for the crosswalk light. I watched her wait. I watched her step into the street without a care in the world. I watched a flash in my rearview mirror of a car accelerating toward the red light and realized it wasn’t going to stop. And I watched the horror on the driver’s face as her car came within three feet of hitting my daughter in full acceleration. In one and a half seconds, fear ruled my being. In one and a half seconds, I became more aware than ever before of my daughter’s fragility…and my own. God knows that I am a fragile thing.
Jesus’ words at the end of the passage, about the worries that will exist tomorrow and the trouble that exists today, do justice to our very real fears as creatures. Today there is trouble and tomorrow there will be something to worry about. Jesus is not saying that there aren’t real problems; that real problems don’t exist so let’s just all be ignorantly happy. The cross itself is a testimony to the very real pain we experience from other people and within ourselves as well as that very real pain we inflict on others.
It’s crucial to consider that Jesus claims God’s kingdom very real in the here-and-now and not solely a promise of the here-after, although he does that too. Our text today echoes the end of Matthew, just before the beginning of the end of Jesus’ life on earth when Jesus gives deeply intense commands to feed your hungry neighbor, hydrate your thirsty neighbor, clothe your naked neighbor, welcome your strange neighbor and visit your imprisoned neighbor.
Neighbors come, neighbors go, sometimes they exceed everyone’s expectations and sometimes they don’t. Neighbors include the wealthy and the poor and everyone in between. Neighbors need food, water and clothing. Neighbors reach great heights and neighbors commit desperate acts. Neighbors build schools and neighbors live in prisons. Neighbors are the instruments of great generosity and the seat of intense greed. Neighbors provide services and neighbors demand to be served. Neighbors live. Neighbors are powerful. Neighbors die. Neighbors worry. For the love of your neighbor, and for Jesus’ sake, God sends you out for the good of your neighbor because God knows that your neighbor is a fragile thing.
And God knows that you need all of these things and God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness make these things possible. Jesus’ language about your neighbor, by extension, includes you. You are included as Jesus says, “God knows already what you need.” God knows that you need to eat. God knows that you need to drink. God knows that you need clothes. God knows that you need a welcome when you’re the stranger. God knows that you need a visit when you’re in prison. In the text, Jesus says, “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This is not provision from the clouds but provision from each other. God’s kingdom now and God’s righteousness now – works through you for the good your neighbor. And God’s kingdom now and God’s righteousness now works through your neighbor for the good of you.
You are a fragile thing. You came, you will go, sometimes you exceed everyone’s expectations and sometimes you don’t. You may be the wealthy or the poor or someone in between. You need food, water and clothing. You reach great heights and you commit desperate acts. You build schools and you build prisons. You provide services and you also demand to be served. You might even be a governor or a union worker or a Republican or a Democrat. You live. You are powerful. You die. You worry. God knows that you are a fragile thing. And God knows fragility personally.
God became fragile in Jesus for you so that your fragility is not the last word. God draws you into relationship through the fragility of the cross into the freedom of new life. The cross does not separate you from life’s trouble but places you into new relationship with those troubles –confronting the truth of them, the reality of them, the pain of them and asserting the truth that the suffering does not have the last word. God knows the fragility that leads to the crosses in your life is real and so is the Spirit’s power to draw you through that suffering into new life, tearing your gaze away from yourself for just long enough to see that God loves your neighbor, and unleashes you into the Kingdom love for neighbor that frees you into a moment or two where you’ll look back and suddenly realize that you were not worried, that you were not afraid – not because you were told not to worry but because you just did not worry – which is a small but tasty portion of God’s promise of the feast to come in your moment now.
 David Worley, Dissertation Topic: The Ontology (Being) of Money”, personal conversation, February 16, 2011.