THIS BLOG TRIES TO PRESENT A GENUINE CHRISTIANITY BASED ON THE COMMON LECTIONARY DAILY BIBLE READING ALONG WITH A HEADLINE FROM WORLD NEWS:
US ARMED FORCES COMMIT 70 SEX CRIMES A DAY
J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
22-31 And then he added to the disciples, “That is why I tell you, don’t worry about life, wondering what you are going to eat. And stop bothering about what clothes you will need. Life is much more important than food, and the body more important than clothes. Think of the ravens. They neither sow nor reap, and they have neither store nor barn, but God feeds them. And how much more valuable do you think you are than birds? Can any of you make himself an inch taller however much he worries about it? And if you can’t manage a little thing like this, why do you worry about anything else? Think of the wild flowers, and how they neither work nor weave. Yet I tell you that Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass, which flowers in the field today and is burnt in the stove tomorrow, is he not much more likely to clothe you, you little-faiths? You must not set your heart on what you eat or drink, nor must you live in a state of anxiety. The whole heathen world is busy about getting food and drink, and your Father knows well enough that you need such things. No, set your heart on his kingdom, and your food and drink will come as a matter of course.”
I’m reasonably good at identifying birds, poor at wild flowers although they delight me.
Ravens are the largest crow in this country, magnificent aerial acrobats, especially at this time of year when they are courting, notable also for their call which might be represented by the word “gronk”- a splendid throaty cough. They are uncommon in town but usually visible on the hillsides of the parish where I work. They take notice of walkers because they’ve got used to tidying up the remains of their picnics. That’s one way God feeds them. Other ways include their predation of the eggs of small bids, seeds, grubs and bugs, road kill, and scavenging the kill of other predators, such as foxes. In other words, God feeds the bird through its own efforts and its place in the food chain. Animal species that fail to do this become extinct. We can say that God feeds them through the process of evolution. Jesus did not know about evolution but he was not sentimental about birds; he would have known how they were adapted to their habitat. He saw this as an aspect of God’s goodness. Human beings also survive because of their adaptation to their environment and their special ability to alter it by means of farming. Jesus was saying to people, “We wouldn’t be here if our habitat didn’t support our presence. Of course we have to work at it just like the ravens, but we don’t need to be consumed by anxiety: the creator who works through the processes of evolution, has made provision for us.” Well, in fact, Jesus said it much better than that, but we need to guard against an urban sentimentality about wildlife.
As for the wild flowers, we know, with a certainty that Jesus did not have, that the shapes and colours of the flowers are cunningly designed to ensure the transfer of pollen and the survival of the species. Yet he noted that this ordinary business of survival, which might be cut short by human intervention nevertheless produced a beauty beyond that of the most splendid monarch in history. There is a lavishness in the processes initiated by the creator which puts human artifice to shame. Better not to get too excited about those designer shoes. There is a more splendid thing for which human beings have been designed.
That splendid thing is the rule of God’s goodness in the world which is the purpose of our evolution; and we can only fulfill our potential by allowing that goodness to rule our own lives, so that we are fit to be its agents in the world. We can learn to have confidence in God’s evolution from the ravens and the wild flowers. With Jesus’ encouragement we can glimpse, in the ordinary necessities of existence, the divine host reaching out of heaven to feed the ravens; and the divine artist, in the ordinary strategies of survival, weaving garments for the flowers. Jesus’ wisdom teaches us to notice the astonishing in the taken-for-granted, the beyond in our midst.