A Day

A Day

Whew. I’m dragging just a little. It’s a few days after Easter. The season has been full of richness, but I’m a bit tired. I’ve written daily Lenten devotionals, newsletter columns, poems, sermons, Bible studies and planned out special services. I love what I get to do. And…I’m low on internal energy.  Perhaps you are there as well, whether from Easter or other things that have sapped some of your vitality. I only get to this place a couple times a year, and I’m always surprised when I do. It took me a number of years, but I finally figured out one thing that helps me–I need to just look at one day. This isn’t a good time for long-range planning, solving major issues or making giant decisions. I need to focus on one day. This day.

“The night has passed, and the day lies open before us…” says the Morning Prayer from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.  It continues on:

“…let us pray with one heart and mind.

As we rejoice in the gift of this new day,

so may the light of your presence, O God,

set our hearts on fire with love for you;

now and for ever. Amen.”

Yes. That would be enough for one day, this day, to have my heart on fire with love for the Lord.

The award-winning and now venerable filmmaker Wim Wenders recently put out a new movie called “Perfect Days.” It was filmed in Japan and follows the daily life of Hirayama, a cleaner of public toilets in Tokyo. Hirayama is a man of routine, who does good work, reads good books and listens to good music.  A viewer watching his simple and poor life unfold each day has to ask: Is that enough? For one day? Is this a good life? Your answer could surprise you.

I have one friend who just had major surgery, and another who recently lost her elderly  father. As I prayed for them this week, I found myself praying for…one day. In both cases, there is long term healing or grieving to do, plans to make, tasks to complete that won’t be finished for months. But praying God’s healing and presence, in small ways and large, for one day was what seemed right. There will be other prayers for tomorrow.

We have an outdoor church readerboard (yep, manual, press-in-the-grooves-black-plastic-letters) near a busy street that I enjoy changing every couple of weeks. The challenge of saying something meaningful in a few words that is not a cheesy church cliché or bad pun always interests me. A month ago I put up this: Lord, how can I delight you this day? As these things tend to happen, the person the sign most impacted for the next two weeks was…me. Every time I drove by the sign, or saw it across the campus, I thought about that one-day assignment. What would please the Lord THIS day? A glance or two at scripture gave me all sorts of good leads:

  • God delights in those who reverence him and trust him and put their hope in his unfailing love (Psalm 147:11).
  • God takes delight in honesty and fair-dealing (Proverbs 11:1).
  • God delights in truth-tellers, but hates lies (Proverbs 12:22).
  • God takes delight in steadfast love, justice and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:24).

Am I this kind of person, do my character and actions display these things? Do yours? All of them bring God delight, every time, every day. One day, this day.

Our church has a large open field next to it, with a tall wooden cross in the middle– perhaps 15-feet high or so.  I love that cross. I’m always struck by its isolation, abrupt in the midst of land with nothing else on it.  But it can be clearly seen from the busy road, as well as from a whole neighborhood of houses and people. It is significant to me that the cross is planted there in the middle of the mundane, daily life of our community, acknowledged or not. It persists in all kinds of pouring rain, hot sun and high winds. Throughout the year, we change the color of the cloth on it, draping in accordance with the liturgical calendar. Good Friday’s color was black, of course. Just for one day, that day, the black on the cross called us to remember the dark day of Jesus’ death and why he submitted to it.  Now the cloth is bright white, trumpeting the news that Jesus is alive. Together, they remind me of what I heard the theologian Miroslav Volf once say: “The gospel boils down to two things: All is forgiven (the cross)…and All will be well (the resurrection).”

Those two things are enough for the week, the month, this year, our whole lives, even for all of eternity. And…enough for today, just this one day.

Peace of Christ,

Dan Baumgartner

Dan Baumgartner is the senior pastor at The Cove in Santa Rosa CA and serves as Secretary on The Fellowship Community Board.