“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34(NIV)
Long before there were TED Talks, there was Vital Speeches of the Day, a monthly publication of several of the best speeches on a broad variety of topics. I was pleased to discover with a quick Google search that it is still in print.
In high school forensics, I competed in oral interpretation. May favorite competition speech came from an issue of Vital Speeches. It was called “My Father’s Shoebox,” by Dr. Porter Crow. I could likely recite it in its entirety today, close to five decades since the last competition.
The most memorable line from the speech is its end. It is a quote from William Saroyan, the Armenian-American playwright, novelist and artist. He wrote, Crow quoted and I re-quoted:
“In the time of your life, live—so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed.”
Saroyan’s line is mostly fantasy- we cannot avoid ugliness or death. However, we can seek goodness, or more precisely “God-ness.” Jesus teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God rather than to worry or to focus on ourselves. I believe that part of seeking God’s kingdom is looking for the Christ in one another, with mercy, open-heartedness, open-mindedness. Part of it is celebrating the beauty of God’s created world. Seeking the God’s kingdom is caring each other and for our planet.
Sing with me (UMH #405). “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness. And all these things will be added unto you. Allelu, alleluia!” Pray with me: Lord, help me to seek your kingdom today. to put the focus beyond my own needs to the beautiful world you have created. Help me to see the goodness in others that I might work to build your kingdom today. Amen.