“Don’t worry,” our Lord tells us. Well, sorry, Jesus, but that’s how us humans operate. We do worry. It’s in our nature. But it’s also because we care. We care about our relatives driving in from different states on the busiest travel day of the entire year in this country, so we will worry come this Thursday. Count on it. We worry about our grandparents who can’t make it out of their room in the nursing home, and instead of joy and laughter they will have to stave off loneliness and depression. We worry how they’re doing; there’s no way to avoid it. We worry about the world. We worry about wars overseas and our servicemen and women, not to mention the violence hitting far too close to home in our surrounding communities. We worry about the future: our children being able to afford to go to college and graduate with minimal debt so that they’re better off to find their own stable job and help improve this broken world. Sorry, Jesus, we worry. It’s in our nature, but it’s also because we actually do care.
You see, I don’t think our Lord minds the worrying. I think Jesus appreciates that we care enough to be concerned about the general well-being of not only our family and friends, but our neighbors, just like God told us to do from the beginning. I tend to think our Savior likes that about us. But Jesus starts to worry Himself when our worrying gets to the point of absolute obsession: when it cripples our outlook on life and the whole world around us. Jesus starts to worry when our worrying cowers us into a corner and we refuse to participate in the joy, and the grace, and the ultimate gift of everlasting life not only in the life to come, but even in this world, in this life: we have already been blessed with the victory of Christ conquering sin and death.
Yes, we should care. We should even worry, but that worry cannot overtake us. It cannot back us into a dark corner. God has done too much for us, and God is doing too much in us now for us to say it’s not worth the fight; to simply give up.
Take for example twelve college students, who have to face the fact that tuition rates are not going down anytime soon. Loan debt is not going to be miraculously forgiven immediately after they graduate. They’ve been told the job market is questionable at best. They’re seeing leaders of their country, whose decisions will impact them more than the rest of us, continue to rail against each other as opposed to actually improving future circumstances. They see shootings on college campuses in the news. And then there’s the minor detail that the expectations of universities and future employers keep getting higher and higher year after year. And yet, these twelve young adults, with plenty to worry about, are here. They’re here for us!
And they didn’t come to St. John’s to show you how talented they are. They’re not out to prove how much God has blessed them with wonderful voices and profound musical abilities. They’re not here to make you proud of their generation. They’re here to tell you that this Jesus Christ is still alive. They’re here to sing, to proclaim, as Aubrey put it in her short description of the group, “Jesus is the sweet wine to our bitter cup of life…we are a group of young adults who realize that we cannot live a full life without the love and support of our wonderful God, and we desire to spread our joy through our music, service, prayers, and intentional actions.”
These twelve college students are here for you, for us, as we approach our national day of Thanksgiving: to realize amidst all our worrying, all our fears, we still have so, so much to be thankful for. So, so much to give thanks to God for: for our family, our friends, sisters and brothers in Christ, the Creation, for these twelve young adults and their passion, for colleges and universities like Valparaiso that provide the opportunities to proclaim the Gospel in such moving ways, and ultimately giving thanks to God for the cross and the empty tomb, without which there’s nothing worth singing about.
So yes, we will worry come that national day of Thanksgiving this Thursday as our families travel across the country. We will worry about the world and its future. But Jesus says, “I’m here! I’m here for you. I’m here for this world that’s been bad-mouthed since the beginning of time and has been given up on with every generation that’s come along. I’m here to show you it’s still worth dying for. I’m here to tell you it’s worth living for. I’m here through these twelve young adults to prove to you this world is still a beautiful Creation. Worry, yes, but I will not allow it to overtake you and all children of God.” Jesus reminds us this week of all weeks, fear and worry is not the Gospel. Thanks be to God that instead it is the joyous sound that “Christ is risen indeed!” And He isn’t going away for an eternity. How can we keep ourselves from singing about that? Thanks be to God for the song that has saved us forever! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Nan Dehnke, Pastor
Office: Mon - Thu: 9 a.m. - Noon