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Consider the Lilies
Photo courtesy of Refugee Hope Partners,

On Monday a group of moms in North Raleigh sent their children to school for the first time in 8 months. These women and countless other parents faced the morning bus stop with a load of anxiety: a very real disease on the loose, regular first day of school jitters, their children’s development in a time of isolation, navigating new rules and regulations, a host of disasters that might come. As they ushered their sons and daughters to the bus, they released them into a big worrisome unknown, and at the exact same time, they were encircled by sunlight and community. 

In our weekly Wednesday night study, we have been making our way through the Gospel of Matthew – chapter by chapter, verse by verse. There have been words of challenge, hope, encouragement, judgment, and perplexity. Sometimes one verse serves up all of the above at once. Matthew 6:28 is one of those verses. Jesus tells his disciples that when worry and fretfulness come, they are to consider the lilies of the field. I don’t know about you but generally, when I am anxious and fretful, the LAST thing I think about is flowers! But as always Jesus knows best. Jesus’ teaching is an instruction for those moments when life and perspective are shrinking when anxiety and worry press upon us. In those moments and hours, we are to cast our gaze onto something bigger, something wild, something borne out of the heart of God.

So. This past week has been difficult and filled with tension. This past week has also been BEAUTIFUL. Did you go outside? In case you haven’t noticed, fall is putting on quite a show here in North Carolina. Did you let the warmth of the sunlight play across your skin? Did you see the raucous display of color in changing leaves? Did you listen as birds sang out and streams gurgled in their beds? Did you watch a turtle lazily swim in Lake Lynn without a care in the world as poll workers counted ballots and statisticians tallied new COVID cases? I was grateful this week to have a fresh study of Matthew on my heart as my senses took in everything going on around me. Sometimes I think we fall into the trap of thinking Jesus’ teachings could not encompass the stress and turmoil of these days. In our weekly study, we are discovering that these words are made for exactly these moments. They call us to remember that we are loved by God. The teachings from that hillside long ago point us to God’s redeeming work that is transforming and making all things new. They remind us of a God who notices and acts when people are bent over carrying unwieldy burdens. A God who hears the small and persistent voices of the weak and stops to offer healing and restoration. The God who notices when parents do something really scary like put their kids on a school bus for the first time in 8 months and surrounds them with light and friends and sends a warm breeze to fill their lungs. 

Amanda Atkin
Associate Minister of Faith Formation