The Hard Easy

Luke 12:13-21 

I think the title of my sermon today is the title of a movie, "The Hard Easy." I never saw the movie, so my sermon really doesn't relate to that. It does relate to the title however, "The Hard Easy." I read the lessons for today and realized that so often pastors preach on what we should be doing that would benefit us, or not doing because it's detrimental to ourselves, others and gets in the way of a good relationship with God. And it's always presented as being really simple. We're even told that the Bible is written in language that is a 6th grade reading level. Simple.

Supposedly it's all so easy: following the simple guidelines that Jesus laid out for us so we can lead a life in a right relationship with God, lead a productive life, a life in harmony with the natural rhythm of God's universe and in harmony with our environment and our family and neighbors and strangers-and even our enemies.

So why is 'easy' so 'hard'? There's a pop song written in 1964 by Steven Sondheim, "Anyone Can Whistle," that has always 'spoken' to me. I find that when a pop song 'speaks' to me, has something to say to me, that it's really another way that God is trying to get a message across to me. So, I have, over the years when I hear this song, imagined that I'm addressing the words to Jesus; I'm talking to Jesus. I think the lyrics speak of the human condition. Remember, to me, I'm having a conversation with Jesus.

"Anyone can whistle, that's what they say-easy. Anyone can whistle, any old day-easy. It's all so simple: relax, let go, let fly. So someone tell me, why can't I? I can dance a tango; I can read Greek-easy. I can slay a dragon, any old week-easy. What's hard is simple; what's natural comes hard. Maybe you could show me, how to let go, lower my guard, learn to be free. Maybe if you whistle, whistle for me."

Powerful words. And after I first have that conversation with Jesus, he leads me, helps me see that I can have that conversation with another human being-someone close to me that I trust-a family member, a friend. Someone else who understands, who can relate to what my difficulty is; understands that it's a 'hard easy.' It's hard for any of us to be free when we're so caught up in our life and the lives of those around us.

Why is it so hard to let go of grudges or anger or fear or frustration and simply love? What's so hard about it? It's not like I'm trying to lift a thousand pound barbell over my head, which of course I couldn't even if I tried and tried. I simply have to let go, not hold on, just let go. Why is it harder to let go of something than to hold on to something?

We all understand some parts of Christ's message better than others. Some of us have insight into particular words and teachings of Jesus, and others of us have that insight into OTHER words and teachings of Jesus. Some of what Jesus taught us is easy for us, and yet other parts are definitely a 'hard easy.'

You have the support of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in your heart and so you go to someone you trust, like a family member or friend, or someone you trust like a spiritual director or advisor. Someone you can simply be honest with.

Maybe you can master Greek or Quantum Physics or perform open heart surgery-what's hard for many folks is simple for you-that is, what's hard comes easy for you. But, what's natural, what's easy, that comes hard. Maybe even such an easy thing as talking to someone is a 'hard easy' for you.

But you've spoken first with Jesus, and he's promised the Holy Spirit to you, to all of us, for inner strength. So you say to this person you trust, who seems like they might know how, but even if not, it's someone you know will understand and you say, "Maybe you can show me, how to let go, lower my guard, learn to be free."

We ALL need to be free of something. We all have to let go of something. We ALL have to continue growing in Christ. The readings today point out so many of the traps in life that take us away from the real meaning of life and what is really important.

The passage from Ecclesiastes (1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23) is wonderful. Everything is vanity. Listen to these lines: "I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me-and who knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity! So I turned and gave my heart up to despair concerning all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave all to be enjoyed by another who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil."

Such persons are not enjoying what they have now, worried about what will happen to it when they die, and they're are holding on to it so tightly that they can't easily, simply let go. They have to have be in control even after they die! They want to make sure only the deserving get that for which they toiled all their lives. It's like they can't even rest after they're dead!

Yes, make out your will; make your wishes known--and let go. There are people who make out wills full of spite. There are people who for all their maneuvering and worry about who will get what when they are gone, after they die and the will is read someone contests the will and it gets changed. Or someone speaks up and says they knew you and know how you thought, and they then speak for you and some parts get changed.

So, what was the purpose of all the worry and maneuvering when alive? Happiness? Hardly. Many folks who don't have money think wealthy people are happy. Yet they don't see that they often people with money have great inner turmoil.

Actually, the more you have, the more you want to acquire, whether it be financial wealth, property wealth, material wealth, a wealth of wisdom and knowledge, a wealth of talent. The more you acquire the harder it is to let go of it. And this acquiring principle applies to people who don't see themselves as wealthy in any way.

There are people who see themselves as 'poor,' yet they can acquire more and more examples of how and why they are poor and they have a hard time letting go of the idea; there are people who see themselves as having poor health and they can acquire more and more reasons why they are in poor health and acquire more and more names on a list of who is responsible and have a hard time letting go of thoughts; there are people who hang on to worry and acquire more and more to worry about and won't let go; there are people who hang on to fear-and won't admit it's fear-and they acquire more things to fear even to the point that they won't even go to a doctor for the simplest thing for fear of what the doctor might say; there are people who see themselves as victims and they acquire more and more supposed evidence to support their reasoning that they, and others, are victims-and that can be any one of us who lets TV or newspaper news about the world make us feel like victims, feel we can do nothing, feel helpless, feel hopeless.

Yet Jesus tells us that ALL of that is really very easy to let go of, but WE make it a "very hard easy." We make it very hard for ourselves to let go. So, we need to turn to Jesus-recognizing that we have this human condition that seems to make what is easy, hard, what is natural come hard-turn and say, "Jesus, show me how to let go, lower my guard, learn to be free." And then say to a person you trust, someone who understands, someone who knows: "show me how to let go, lower my guard, learn to be free." Ask today. Don't wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. There is only today.


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