Joined: 16 Nov 2006
|Posted: Mon May 01, 2017 2:08 pm Post subject: Fuming Mad by Rev Ant Howe
|Sermon: Fuming Mad - Rev Ant Howe
Maybe, like me, you can remember the change of from leaded petrol to unleaded petrol. For a while we had the choice of whether to put 4 star petrol in our cars (with lead included) or to use unleaded petrol.
But, as time went on, 4 star petrol was phased out.
The change, they said, was necessary because the fumes from cars running on leaded petrol was particularly poisonous.
If you have ever travelled in a car that has a faulty exhaust, you soon start coughing because the fumes are not being expelled properly.
For a time we were encouraged to buy diesel cars - - they were cleaner, we were told. But now research is suggested that diesel fumes are perhaps more lethal than petrol fumes.
We also know that if we don’t get the central heater boiler or gas fire serviced we can be putting ourselves at risk, because fumes can be lethal. Indeed, a couple of months ago the boiler had to be replaced at the Parsonage because it was emitting dangerous fumes.
Before health and safety at work was as developed as it is today, workers breathed in all sorts of fumes and then developed problems in later life.
Now if you look up the word ‘fume’ in the dictionary you will find that it says fumes are something which are emitted which are often harmful in nature.
So how often have we got ourselves so angry and worked up to the point we say “I’m fuming”.
We’ve all said it, haven’t we.
But if fumes are dangerous then can it really do us, or anyone around us, any good if we get to the point of declaring ourselves to be ‘fuming’?
Perhaps ‘fuming’ is a appropriate way of describing it though, because if we get to the point we are THAT angry and THAT worked up then perhaps we are producing something poisonous!
Maybe it would be better to see if we ease the situation BEFORE we begin to fume!
How many of us have got ourselves that worked up over a situation that it’s made us feel ill?
Why would it makes us feel ill? Because when we end up fuming we could be poisoning ourselves…..
We can poison ourselves with anger and stress and bitterness….
And such things can also poison our friendships and relationships.
Now I know when I am driving the more I rev the engine, the hotter it gets and the more fumes it will produce….. and perhaps that’s true of humans: the more worked-up and stressed we get, the more we will end up fuming.
Too much stress in life will take its toll on both us and on those we associate with.
And the effects are not always noticeable straight away. My dad has breathing problems which were caused by him inhaling fumes years and years ago…. He didn’t know how dangerous it was at the time….
And perhaps we don’t realise the effect that fuming and fretting will have on us long term.
It’s been a long time now since people were allowed to smoke in enclosed public spaces. Many of us will remember the days when people could smoke wherever they wished but it forced others to breathe in smoke…..
And we recognise that fumes don’t just have an effect on those producing them, but also on the people around them.
Perhaps the next time we say ‘I’m fuming’ we might want to think of the potential damage not just to ourselves, but on others.
It’s worth considering what we are taking in and what we are giving out…..
Are we causing other people stress by our actions?
Do we REALLY need to get that worked up?
People who end up fuming too easily are not great to be around! I don’t know about you, but I find it really difficult being around people who are volatile. They tire me out because I never know when they are going to explode.
There are some people I avoid because it just seems like they are fuming under the surface all the time, and it doesn’t do me any good to be around them.
There’s a verse in the Book of Psalms that says “Fret not thyself because of evil doers”……. In other words, don’t let others stress you out.
We don’t have to join in with other people’s dramas. It’s amazing how many people will try to involve you in their stresses.
Before we get to the point of saying ‘I’m fuming’ - - perhaps the best thing we can do is to try to calm down, or at least take ourselves away from the situation which is causing all the stress for a while.
And really, why should I make other people breathe in my fumes? Why should I make my bad temper or my issues impact on others?
Now, those of us who drive know that the higher the car emissions, the more it costs to tax the car….. a reminder that there’s always a cost to producing fumes! Whether the cost is to us, to others, or to the world around us: there’s always a cost.
There will be a cost to our spiritual heath and well-being if we live a life devoid of peace.
Now if you have ever tried meditation then you’ll know that it begins with some deep breaths…….
Breathing deeply and intentionally helps to relax us…..
Breathing in clean air does us good.
Getting away from the stress and strain, if only for a while, can make all the difference.
I love the 23rd Psalm and those words “he maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leadeth me beside the still waters, he restoreth my soul” - - which sounds much better to me than fuming all the time!
Take time just to be….
Enjoy the beauty of the world around you….
St Paul, in his letter to the Philippians tells us “not to be anxious about anything” and then gives us a formula which might help:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication make your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
And what did Christ Jesus say? “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you”.
Worries and stresses will come – that’s guaranteed – but when we can think of nothing else then it will rob us of our peace.
So instead of fuming, maybe we should try praying…..
The ‘peace of God which passes all understanding’ - - that means you can experience it even in situations where it seems impossible.
We might not understand how, but it’s possible to experience peace in every situation through prayer.
Now, I know how easy it is worry. I can worry for England. It’s very easy to dwell on problems…..I’m sure we’ve all had sleepless nights because we have got ourselves so worked up.
But I’m reminded of those words from the Book of Ephesians:
“Do not let the sun go down whilst you are still angry”…..
Why? Because we won’t be able to sleep and we will start the next day stressed out and grumpy.
Try to end the day on a good note. Don’t go to bed fuming - - who wants to sleep in a room full of fumes?!
The great American Unitarian Ralph Waldo Emerson said it far better than I ever could:
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
And when we awake each morning then we can give thanks for another day….
The Psalmist says “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it”.
What difference would it make to us if we woke up with that sort of attitude? Determined to be glad….determined to be thankful….
And if we find ourselves getting overly anxious then I can think of no better advice than that of St Paul who tell us:
“Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable…..if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise then THINK ABOUT THESE THINGS.”….
Take time to think good thoughts whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or about to start fuming…..
What did Jesus say: “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to your life?”…. the answer is none of us can add time to our lives by getting anxious, but we might well subtract hours from our life if we get too stressed out!
Now, as some of you know, I wasn’t supposed to be leading worship today…. In fact it wasn’t until Friday afternoon I knew that I would be.
My plans for this weekend changed quite suddenly because of circumstances beyond my control.
I could be annoyed because things didn’t work out the way I planned…..
Or I can be glad that I have the opportunity to be here in church.
And actually, I find being in worship is one of the greatest things I can do to help keep things in perspective. When I come to worship I concentrate on something bigger than just myself and my situation…..
And I can’t really sing my praise whilst I’m fuming mad!
Here in church I find moments of silence to help calm me, time to pray that I might experience the peace of God….. I can consider new ideas and better ways of being and living.
Being here in church helps me invest in my spiritual health.
You know, when I come to the end of my life I don’t think I will look back and wish I’d been fuming mad more…..
I don’t think I will look back and wish I’d been more worried or angry or stressed.
In fact, I might well consider that I have wasted time doing those things when I could’ve been experiencing peace and enjoying life.
Thank God for moments of clarity….for moments we realise that we can live better….and for moments we realise that circumstances don’t have to have the final say on how we feel.
So on this Bank Holiday weekend, I hope you will have time to relax or do something enjoyable tomorrow.
As our reading earlier said: “If I had my life to live over, I'd dare to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.”
May we learn to enjoy the journey and may we love along the way. Amen.