Don't Worry; Be Righteous
by RE Guy Moody
“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…? But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
- Matthew 6:24-33

American Flamingos. Photographer: Susan Moody
Bee Hummingbird (the smallest bird in the world) from Cuba. Photographer: Susan Moody
My wife, Susan, and I are avid birders. We have been all over this beautiful country and planet searching out new birds. For both of us, birding is more than a hobby. It’s a spiritual experience. It’s part of how we connect with something much deeper than ourselves. My binoculars draw me closer to each bird I see and closer to our Creator. Before I’m even aware, my cares and my worries melt away.

Ah worrying, it may have replaced baseball as our national pastime. A virtual cloud forces us into a self-imposed quarantine of virtual meetings, virtual worship, virtual hugs. We reorder our lives to fit a virtual world. A New Jersey Audubon birding festival, where I volunteer, is now going to be a virtual festival. This is a smart and responsible compromise given the need to isolate ourselves. Similarly, I miss being with people in church. I know we are doing the responsible thing, the Godly thing. Still, I long for what might have been. Loss of something we cherish is heart and gut wrenching. An uncertain future is worrisome.

I imagine you, too, long for something in this time of isolation. Maybe your longing is so overwhelming, your need so great, you can’t see how you’re going to get through this. Maybe even God feels virtual and unreachable. But look at birds. No, really look at them. Use binoculars if you have them. Theirs is a constant struggle to survive against tremendous odds. Yet, Jesus tells us they don’t worry about tomorrow. We shouldn’t either. But, how do we not worry in such a time?

I recently read an article I can’t stop thinking about. The author wrote, “I hope you might consider this: what happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but the Great Pause. It is, in a word, profound. Please don’t recoil from the bright light beaming through the window.”[1] He suggested that if we can push back against strong pressures to return to the old ways, we have a chance to create something new and wonderful. Isn’t this exactly what our Scripture implores us to do?

This virus is exposing major cracks in our worldwide health system and social order. As with any catastrophe the poor, people of color, and immigrants are affected most profoundly. People—underpaid and under-appreciated—are keeping us alive, literally. And they are hard hit by this in every way. Where is the justice in any of this? Yet there could be blessings in all of this. A reduced carbon footprint is clearing our air. Of course, people need to work. But we have a golden opportunity to find a cleaner, safer way to do it. In so many ways, we can reboot a system to rid it of so many inequities. We just need to reset our priorities.

I think this is how we stop worrying. Jesus provides the answer. Take positive action, and “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” So, let’s all shout joyfully, “Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!” Spend time in prayer, in nature, or wherever you might be closer to God. God is not virtual. God is here with us in our times of struggle. Whether you are at home all by yourself or with family members, believe that God is with you. Take the precious time you have to listen for or watch for God. Be ready for the words that will be imprinted on your heart. Resist the powerful seductions of this world that surely will come. Know this truth, “nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39) Imagine a world as it can be and should be, and feel at peace. And remember: through God’s grace, Good Friday gave way to Easter Sunday. God surely will lead us through this dark time to a great victory, if we only follow.

[1]  Gambuto, Julio Vincent, Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting , Medium Online Magazine

Let Us Pray
Gracious and loving God. We are human, and we are afraid. Today, we ask you to surround us with your perfect love to cast out our fear. May we take your love and share it generously with each other. Help us to seize this opportunity to create the world you have always wanted for us. Amen.

Guy Moody is the Moderator of the Baltimore Presbytery. He is a Ruling Elder at St. John United Church in Columbia, on the Strategy Team of People Acting Together in Howard (PATH), a devoted husband, father, and birder who loves birding with wife, son, and anyone who wants to tag along.