Monday, June 09, 2008

"do not worry"

These are worrisome times. People have been feeling the crunch of food and gas prices all over the world. The UN recently reported that the world needs to double food production by 2030. As I talk to people here in Argentina, they talk about food items that have doubled in price over the last couple years, as well as costs such as bus fare.

On top of rising food prices, the last 3 months in Argentina there has been a conflict between the government and farmers: In objection to increased export taxes, farmers have suspended their shipments of grains and have set road blocks which have caused food shortages and prices to rise. In a year when international food prices are high, people are frustrated that Argentina is missing an opportunity. The article points out that because of the conflict, Argentine farmers have missed US$2.3 billion in soy, wheat, corn and sunflower seed sales. The road blocks have caused bus companies to cancel services and milk trucks to pour out their milk on the side of the road. Attempts at dialogue between the government and the farmers so far have failed, which is making for more frustration across the country. Many frustrations and worries are also fueled my memories of the economic crisis of 2001 in Argentina. In the stories of people and the general climate, you can feel the uncertainty, insecurity, anxiety and worry in the air.

In the midst of this deep anxiety heard in everyday encounters and on the pages of newspapers, I prepared my sermon for the week, and the Gospel text was Matthew 6:24-34. The words of Jesus “do not worry,” jumped off the page with glaring audacity. Jesus must have known how hard these words would be to hear, since he repeats them three times. Often the gospel-good news message in the text is the hardest to hear. Jesus goes on to say that God “knows that you need all these things.” This is reinforces by the text in Isaiah which provides the imagery of a mother nursing her child to remind us that God does not forget us. In fact, we are tattooed on the palms of God’s hands. In these uncertain times, we will have our share of worries. What we can count on is that in the midst of these worries and increasingly uncertain times, is that Jesus’ audacious words "do not worry," will confront us with radical grace, and remind us that the God who made us has not forgotten about us. May these words transform our worries into striving, to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” to strive for a kingdom where there is no worry.

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