The scripture I'll be reading just before preaching is from Matthew 6:25-33.
..."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? 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? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 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? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
What God put in the Bible is there because someone needed it. What we read in scripture Wednesday night someone will need to hear. We needed to know that God is the creator of the earth. We need to know that so we have someone to thank for all the blessings we enjoy. And we need to know there is another kingdom--a kingdom not from this world--because though this world is beautiful in many ways, this world has lots about it that make us worry every day.
But under the troubles--under the ambiguities and pains we suffer here--under it all there is beauty--surprising, perfect beauty--beauty that we get glimpses of in this life--beauty that I hope and pray you will be able to get a glimpse of tonight.
Tonight, let's take time for some beauty! Think about the literal beauty of the earth--but also the beauty of the gifts God has given, the bodies and experiences and talents--the beauty of loving relationships--the wondrous beauty of God's forgiveness... As we do that we can see and experience how God lifts us from our worries and gives us thankful hearts.
In order to see those things, especially when we are worried, we often need to see them through other people's eyes--so, I'm going to ask some questions tonight... Where have you seen beauty? Can you share so that others will know that even in ordinary people there is wonderful hope? You hear enough from me every Sunday. It's good for us to speak with one another... and we're NOT on the radio! So--get ready...!!! Here comes the microphone!
- Who dares say a few words about something on this earth that you've experienced as just beautiful? First, let's just focus in on God's good creation! What beautiful places or have made your heart sing? . . . . . . BEAUTIFUL!
- Now--what about us... what about you and me? When have YOU amazed YOU? We give God credit when we say what we're thankful for in ourselves... What have you can do or what have you done that we might not be aware of? Who has met a goal? Who has accomplished something? Who dares say a few words about yourself as a way of praising and thanking God? We'll get to others in a minute... I'll start... now it's your turn... . . . . . . BEAUTIFUL!
- You'll see that we're following the order of worship... Beautiful Earth, Marvelous Me, now Wonderful Love. What have you experienced among friends, family, people who have helped you and cared about you? Loving and being loved is so important! We are made to be in relationship with one another--it is not good that we be alone. Do you know someone that was clearly brought to you by God? How has caring love been something beautiful in your life? (Time for sharing...) . . . . . . BEAUTIFUL!
- In some of what we've shared we've already hard of God's amazing and forgiving love--God's amazing grace. Can someone share briefly about how you've seen the beauty of God's grace in your life or in someone else's life? These things touch very close to our hearts so sometimes we want more time to prepare--but if someone would like to... . . . . . . BEAUTIFUL!
Here's the truth: the beauty of this earth--the beauty we've shared here tonight--it's all just a little taste--a little taste of what God has for us in his kingdom. You can know that grace by getting to know Jesus. He is the one who is truly beautiful--his scared hands and feet, his pierced side--given for you so all your worries will be taken care of--his beauty, someday, will be given to you.
Let's share as much of that beauty as we can here in this life! Let's not keep it to ourselves! It will lift many hearts to know that there is beauty--sometimes beauty from ashes. Because God's new kingdom is coming--and someday God will open the doors and welcome us to his kingdom, where we will share his beauty... and every worry, and every tear will be gone.