Text: Matthew 6:24-34
The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue is a long poem in six parts by W.H. Auden. The poem won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1948. It inspired a symphony by composer Leonard Bernstein and a 1950 ballet by Jerome Robbins. The poem deals, in eclogue form, (an eclogue is a poem in a classical style on a pastoral subject) with humanity’s quest to find substance and identity in a shifting and increasingly industrialized world. In the poem, Auden highlights human isolation, a condition magnified by the lack of tradition or religious belief in the modern age.
When I chose the title, The Age of Anxiety, for this sermon I didn’t know of Auden’s poem. I was simply making an attempt to relate Jesus’ words in Matthew to our current times. Who wouldn’t agree that we are living in anxious and worrisome times? It seems there is so much to worry about. On a large scale we worry about the economy, nuclear war, environmental genocide, the danger of our country returning to a culture of resegregation, and the threat of terrorist attacks on our nation, just to name a few. On a smaller, yet intensely personal, scale we worry about our health, we worry about having enough money to take care of ourselves, we worry about our children and our families, we worry about our friends who are sick, we worry about job stability, and on and on. Our reality is that modern life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations, demands, and worry. For many of us, worry and anxiety are so commonplace they have become our way of life.