A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sermon (November 18) - "This Is the Day!"

On this Sunday before Thanksgiving, it’s a good time for us to reflect on how our attitudes shape who we are.
There is a story about a barber who had a negative attitude about everything. A man came to his shop, got in the chair. He said he was going to Europe in a few days. The barber asked, "Where are you going?" He said, "First, we are going to go to London." The barber interrupted him, and said, "That's a terrible place. It's dirty, noisy, too expensive. You won't like it there in London. Where else are you going?"
"We are going to go over to Paris."
"Well Paris is worse. The people there are really very rude. You won't like it in Paris. Where else are you going?"
"Well then we are going to fly down to Rome."
"Oh, Rome is worst of all. The food is terrible. Whatever you do, don't visit the Vatican. The lines are too long. And don't think you are going to see the Pope either, because the Pope is not accessible. And even if you do, you won't understand a word he says, because he doesn't speak English."
Well the man went on his trip. He returned to the barber for another haircut. The barber asked, "How was your trip?"
He said, "London was great. It was the most exciting city. Prices were really quite reasonable. Paris was a beautiful city, very hospitable, everyone was kind to us. And Rome was the perfect climax to our trip. Everything was wonderful.
We went to the Vatican, and even had an audience with the Pope. There weren't any crowds there at all. It was like a private audience with the Pope. And he spoke to each of us personally, and in English. Then he had me kneel, placed his hand on my head, and gave me a blessing. Then he leaned forward and spoke into my ear, in perfect English, ‘You have a lousy haircut.’"

Our attitudes matter, don’t they?  They can make or break your day.   
If that's true, then maybe our Psalm 118 reading, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it," can make all the difference in the world. I’d like to offer three ways that this scripture can help us be more positive and more thankful in our daily living.
First of all, if this is the day the Lord has made, than it’s not up to you and me.  The Lord has already made the day. So whether it will be a good day or a bad day, how it will end up is not entirely up to us. "This is the day the Lord has made."
People who get burned out in life believe that everything depends on them. They carry a load that is too heavy for one person to carry because they really don't believe that other people are capable of doing it.
But if I believe in God, if I believe that God is the creator, and not me, then maybe I can stumble, and err, and fail, and the world won't come to an end, because this is the day the Lord has made.  It’s not a day that I have made. We’re in good hands with God.
The second thing that we can learn from this scripture is that God is always creating new life and new possibilities. God creates every new day.
The Book of Genesis says that God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day he rested. It doesn't say that he created the world in six days, and on the seventh day he stopped. It says that he rested. So we can assume that on the eighth day, God started again.
The "eighth day of creation" is a wonderful metaphor that the Church has used to refer to the resurrection of Jesus. Saturday is the seventh day. Jesus was resurrected on Sunday. So the Church said that Sunday is the eighth day of creation, because God recreated the world in the resurrection of Jesus, and those who believe in him, live in this new world.
This is why you can never know for sure of this is going to be a bad day. You don't know what kind of day it will end up being because the outcome doesn't belong to you or to me.
The Apostle Paul understood this, didn’t he? I am especially inspired by Paul's letter to the Philippians. He's in jail. He's not going to get out. The Philippians send him a letter and a gift of concern They sent it with Epaphroditus as an expression of their love and concern for him. The letter to the Philippians is his thank you letter back to them. In it is this phrase. "I want you to know that what has happened to me has really been a good thing, because it has helped to advance the Gospel."
"This is the day the Lord has made." God is always creating new life and new possibilities.
The third thing that I want to point out about this phrase is that it says that today is all there is. God hasn't created tomorrow. "This is the day" God has created. In fact I really believe that God hasn't even started to worry about creating tomorrow yet. So why should we?
That's the point of the Sermon on the Mount. The phrases that were read to us today were from Matthew: "Consider the birds of the air: they don't worry about where their food is going to come from tomorrow. They just live for today. Consider the flowers: they don't worry about what they are going to wear tomorrow. Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like any of these."
So why do you worry about tomorrow? Let tomorrow worry about itself. For this is the day. God hasn't created tomorrow yet. 
I mean, just look at Pastor Pumpkin.  See how content he is.  Aren’t you jealous? He’s not thinking about where he’s going to be this Thursday for Thanksgiving.  If he turns into pumpkin pie, he turns into pumpkin pie.  He’s more focused on today and how I’m going to end this sermon.
Tomorrow will take care of itself. This is the day that the Lord has made!
The story is told of an American who was down in Mexico, on one of those beautiful beaches, near a village. He came upon a fisherman coming up with his boat onto the beach. He got out, unloaded his catch, just one fish. The American asked him how long it took him to catch that fish. He said, "Not very long. It doesn't take me long at all." Then he said, "Why didn't you stay out longer and catch some more fish?" He said, "Because this is sufficient for my family today."
The American asked him, "What do you do with the rest of your day?" He said, "Well, I sleep late, I fish a little, I come home and play with my children, then I take a siesta with my wife, then later in the afternoon my wife and I go with our children to the village. I sip a little wine, talk to my friends, and play the guitar. I have a very full and busy life."
The American said, "Listen. I can help you. I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you. If you spend more time fishing, you can catch more fish, sell them, and buy a bigger boat. In time, with more earnings, why you would be able to buy a lot of boats. In fact, you could have a fleet of boats. Then in time, with enough earnings, you wouldn't have to sell your fish to somebody else. You could put a cannery right here on this beach and process your own fish. Pretty soon you could get out of here. You could live in Mexico City, or Los Angeles, or someplace like that. Then pretty soon you would have enough money to be a wealthy man."
The Mexican asked, "How long will this take?"
He said, "Maybe fifteen or twenty years."
The Mexican asked, "Then what?"
He said, "Then you can retire, move to some beautiful spot. You can sleep late, play with your children, take a walk into the village and be with your friends."
Friends, "This is the day!"
"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

No comments: