The Collect for Sunday begins by asking that the Lord might grant us “not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly…” I find that to be an interesting request unto Almighty God. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 28.8% of Americans will experience some type of Anxiety Disorder in their lifetime. That’s something like 89 million people. That’s a lot of people.
Of course every human being, at one time or another, will experience anxiety. Again from the NIMH, “Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can actually be beneficial in some situations.” Yet, here we are, praying to not be anxious about earthly things. As I pondered that prayer, I began to think of all the things church people get anxious about, and as I looked over my list, it was full of “earthly things:”
- Noisy kids
- Service times
- Somebody sitting in my pew
- Electrical bills
- Music that isn’t being played on the organ
- Just to name a few
I started to understand why maybe we should pray for a lack of anxiety. Maybe we should turn our attention from the trappings of religion toward the love of things heavenly. Maybe we should take this prayer a little more seriously this Sunday. Then again, part of my vocation is helping people through those moments of anxiety, and if they don’t get anxious then I lose some job security. Oh no, now I’ve gone and made myself anxious.
Grant us, O Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things… Amen.