19th Sunday after Pentecost / LWML Sunday – St. Matthew 6:22-34
There is a video out of New York City that has been making the rounds lately. It shows an infamous New York City rat running down the steps to the subway, dragging a large piece of pizza behind him.
Where did he get such a thing? I can assure you he did not pay for it, although someone probably did. What I can tell you, is that is the rat equivalent of Thanksgiving dinner. For he has not found the crumb of a cookie dropped by a child, or the remains of a half-eaten banana left by a morning commuter; rather he has found a meal that will surely fill him, and others in his household, for many days to come.
The Lord provides, even for those who the rest of us would rather exterminate.
It is the answer to the question of how come weeds not only survive, but thrive no matter the weather, no matter what you do to prevent them. It is the answer to the question of why mosquitos and cockroaches and grasshoppers and countless other annoying things live on, no matter how many you swat, stomp, or spray for. It is the answer to the question of how in the middle of the most desolate wastelands, grows a tree.
The Lord provides, even where no one else will, or would or perhaps even could.
But despite this evidence, there is still something in the back of our minds, in the depths of our hearts, that wonders if the Lord will provide for you as well.
It is not a new question or concern. The children of Israel on many occasions, despite seeing all that the Lord God had done for them in bringing them out of Egypt, still asked if He was able to provide water in the wilderness; still asked if they were going to starve to death due to lack of bread; still wondered if they would ever eat meat again.
Nor is it just a stomach question. The people in Israel wondered aloud if the Lord God would provide them with leaders, whether it would be prophets, priests, or kings.
Nor is it just an Old Testament question. The disciples wondered where they would get enough bread to feed the crowds; and then wondered what they would do when Jesus was not around any longer.
And yet in each instance, the Lord provides. The Lord provides bread; the Lord provides rulers and authorities; the Lord provides first prophets and priests, and then He provides apostles and evangelists.
For 6000 years, the Lord has continuously provided out of His goodness and mercy for the needs of His people.
And yet, what is the major concern today?
That there will not be enough; that somehow we will run out; that despite 6000 years of abundance, it will all be gone by the time the sun sets this evening, and we will have nothing left.
And indeed, there is good reason to worry: drought causes this area to suffer, will there be anything to harvest if things do not improve?
Prices on many goods are low right now, but what is to stop them from skyrocketing beyond reason tomorrow? Better to store up today.
The world is changing, the demands of people and countries are not what they once were; resources may soon be scarce; best to keep a healthy supply on hand.
But of course, that is not your real concern is it? There may be a drought here, but not elsewhere, so there will still be food to eat; and the weather runs in cycles, so there is always next year.
You may not be stockpiling resources, but you can bet the government is doing so; and you can be assured that there will be some means of providing and protecting should trouble be at the gates.
But what about in your own home? Where the government cannot store up things for you, and the cycles of the weather have no effect on you.
Do you struggle to eat day to day, or could you survive more than one snowstorm?
Do you wash your clothes daily so that you have something to wear, or is there more than enough to get you through the week?
What about the extras of life? Books and toys and gadgets? How many have you actually used recently?
But of course a little house cleaning and change in shopping habits can fix that; what about the way you live your life, and how you plan your life?
Martin Luther once said that if God provides you with these children, He will surely also provide a means for feeding them.
How often do we avoid things, for fear that someday in the future, we will not have enough, even if there is no evidence to suggest it?
Funny as it may be, the Lord provided a pizza for a subway rat. For better or for worse, the Lord provides for the mosquitos and grasshoppers and cockroaches. Annoying as they may be, the Lord provides for the weeds that grow up in the cracks of the sidewalk.
And the Lord has not just provided for one such instance either. The Lord has provided for the thousands upon thousands of subway rats; the millions upon millions of mosquitos, grasshoppers, and cockroaches; the billions upon billions of blades of grass growing up in places where it would be nice if they did not.
The Lord provides for those things that surround us that we would rather just not be there anymore; and He provides for them abundantly.
Will the Lord not also provide for you?
Will the Lord not also provide for you when the weather is on the wrong cycle? Will the Lord not also provide for you when the government does not? Will the Lord not also provide for you when the snowstorm hits, or the power goes out, or the well runs dry? Will the Lord not also provide for you and however many little ones He has entrusted to your care?
He will provide for you. He will provide for you food in the wilderness, water in the drought, clothes in the winter, and help in times of need.
He will provide all of these things and more, but first and foremost He has provided you with His Son. He has provided you with a Savior who took your sins of worry and want and greed and nailed them to His cross. He provided you with a Savior who did not worry about what the future would bring, for He knew that the future for you and for all the redeemed was already secured by His death and resurrection.
The Lord of heaven and earth has provided you His Son, who died and rose, so that you might have forgiveness, life and salvation. Will He not also provide for your needs of food and clothes, both today and tomorrow?
Seek first the Lord who sent His Son to die and rise for you, not the idols who offer no such grace. Seek first the living God who provided bread and quail daily for the people in the wilderness, not the dead gods who promise you a meal tomorrow in exchange for your soul today. Seek after your Father who is in heaven, who promises that He will take care of you today and tomorrow; not the pagans, who point you to yesterday. Seek the Lamb who lives and reigns and has secured for you eternal life; not the worthless pagans who only offer death.
Seek first the Lord who provided for a rat in the subway, who provided for a people wandering the wilderness, who provided for a people trapped in exile, who provided for a wedding in Cana, who provided for crowds in a field, who provides for His Church this day and every day, and know that He will provide even more for you, for He has sent His one and only Son to redeem you.