WORD FROM THE PASTOR:   TODAY

 

In the popular film “Groundhog Day”, Bill Murray finds himself living the very same day–February 2–over and over again.

That, of course, is fantasy.  No day ever comes around twice.  Every day is unique and unrepeatable.  That’s really a pretty momentous fact: No day is ever repeated.  As I write this, it’s January 24, 2006...and it’s the only January 24, 2006 that I will ever see, that the world will ever see.  And that makes it a rather special day!

One of the most fundamental spiritual lessons is learning the value, the wonder, the beauty of each day.  Each day is unique; each day is filled with promise; each day can be a milestone in our lives.  This is the day that the Lord has made!” the Psalmist cries.   God calls us to embrace joyfully each day He gives us.

When the alarm clock rings, we tend to resent it.  (One remembers Irving Berlin’s murderous thoughts about the bugler in his great army-life song “Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning”).  Instead of wanting to toss the clock against the wall (or muttering threats against the bugler’s life!), I should greet the wake-up call with joy.  I am being summoned to a new day!  Before me stretches a day I have never lived before–a day that is full of potential, a day that is like a new, unused tablet upon which I can write all kinds of wonderful things!  This new day is a day filled with God’s grace–as Scripture says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never fails, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.  (Lamentations 3:22).  New every morning.  So the call of the alarm clock is really a call to step into God’s mercies! 


One of the most popular of all sayings is “One day at a time”.  (So popular that I can think of at least three songs by that title: one a religious song popularized by Connie Francis and Christy Lane; another a minor hit for Willie Nelson in the 1960s; a third, the theme song of a situation comedy starring Bonnie Franklin).  The saying’s popularity is so great because the saying is so very true!  And it’s so very true because it simply capsulizes something our Blessed Saviour Jesus once said:

So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. 

Today’s trouble is enough for today.  (Matthew 6:34)

We live one day at a time because that’s the way God dishes out time.  He doesn’t give us a year, or a decade, at a time: He gives us life day by day.  And He calls us to embrace and appreciate each day as we possess it, before it passes into yesterday. 

I find the story of the manna instructive here.  When God brought His people Israel out of Egypt, they were hungry in the wilderness.  So He gave them manna, a breadlike substance that appeared on the ground every morning.  And every morning they gathered it.  And they had to gather it afresh every day.  If they tried to hold it over from one day to the next–if they filled, so to speak, a manna “doggie bag”–it wouldn’t keep; it would become filled with maggots.  So every day they gathered the manna they needed for that day.

That’s true of our lives–every day God gives us the grace and the strength we need for that day.  That’s why Jesus tells us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.”  Not weekly bread, not yearly bread–but daily bread.

So God cares for us day by day–and we live day by day.

There is always the temptation, of course, to stay focused on the past--to remember past joys that seem so superior to the joys of today.  It’s easy to lose the wonder of today if I’m still caught in yesterday.  I need continually to remind myself of that Bible verse I quoted earlier: “His mercies never end; they are new every morning.”  God has given me many joys in the past; but He is still there to make today a day of wonder!

Recently I opened a fortune cookie and read this bit of advice:

Happiness remembered is not as wonderful as happiness experienced. 

I read it aloud, and my family and I all pretty much said: “Huh?  What does that mean?”      But then we realized–it simply means that living in the past is not as joyful as living in the present.  The past was a great place–and I love to revisit it in memory.  And I certainly want to learn from the past.  I think memory is a wonderful gift of God.  But I don’t want to forget that another one of God’s great gifts is today.

There is, however, one past day that I do want to stay focused on–and that’s Good Friday.  The Day that Jesus died for me, to bring me into God’s Kingdom.  That past day fills my every today with a deep sense of God’s love.  In a sense, though, even that sacred event does not lie buried in the past–Holy Communion brings it home to me today whenever I receive it; and the presence of the risen Christ in my life every day (the risen Christ who still bears on His body the marks of the cross!) also makes Good Friday a daily reality  in my life.  My every day is lived in the power of His cross.

I love those words from a song in the musical “Godspell”words adapted from Richard of Chichester–“Day by day, dear Lord, three things I pray: To see Thee more clearly, love Thee more dearly, follow Thee more nearly, day by day.”  Each day can be a day of growth in Chirst!

The clock rings.  I am summoned from comforting sleep and sweet dreams.  I’d like to stay there.  But then I realize: Something exciting is happening.  God is giving me a new day.  A day to walk in His mercies.  This is the day that the Lord has made...let us rejoice and be glad in it!              


 

God loves you and so do I!