September 10, 2017 — Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Rev. Alison Quin
This Day and That Day
How many of you get emails urging you to support good causes? My email inbox is often flooded with emails about local, national and international needs and causes. The emails ask for funds, volunteer time, writing letters, making calls, signing petitions, occasionally marching.
I know a lot of you get at least some emails like this because you are on the church email list!
How many of you feel overwhelmed at times?
I think it is pretty common for people of good will who want to do the right thing to feel overwhelmed.
We are facing many issues in the world today: disaster relief, poverty, racism, climate change and many others. And there are many ways to get involved from volunteering at the food pantry to fundraising to calling legislators.
But we are human beings and we get tired and overwhelmed and confused about how to spend our time.
I’d like to turn to Martin Luther and St. Paul for guidance on how to spend our time.
Martin Luther once wrote that there were only two days in his calendar—this day and that Day (with a capital D).
This day means today, this very moment, which is really the only moment we have.
That Day has a spiritual meaning that is a little harder to pin down because it transcends chronological time. That Day is the Day when Christ will come again. On that Day, we will be asked to account for our lives. On that Day, God’s will for the world will be done, as it is in heaven. All divisions will be healed—in the beautiful words of psalm 85, “mercy and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss.” That Day refers to our ultimate hope that God’s redemption begun in Christ, will be complete.
But that Day is not just in the future. It is the potential for transformation that exists within us and all around us at every moment. The kingdom of God is within, Jesus said. We carry that Day within us as a daily possibility and as our ultimate destiny. It is a God seed that could sprout at any time.
What if we too lived as though we only had two days on our calendar?
What would that look like?
It would mean leaving the past behind with all its baggage. God is a God of forgiveness and healing—every day, God offers us freedom from the past and a doorway into new life.
Living fully each day also means spending less time worrying about tomorrow or next week or next year. It means focusing on the day at hand, living it as well as we can, entrusting the future to God.
For Lord of the Rings fans, I was reminded of Aragorn’s speech before a great battle.
This day we fight!”
Our ultimate hope and trust in God enables us to let go of future worry and focus on doing what we can each day.
The passage from Romans also urges us to focus on the big picture, and the present moment, letting go of other concerns. Paul reminds that it is time to wake from sleep and notice that salvation is close at hand. The night is far gone, the day is near.
With that in mind, Paul urges us do the most important thing each day—“Owe no one anything, except to love one another. For the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
Paul is not talking about love as an emotion here. He is talking about love as action.
Living each day fully means asking, what can I do today to show love for my neighbor? One snowy day, my car wouldn’t start. Someone came by to drop something by the food pantry. He stopped and offered to jump start my car. I accepted gratefully. We chatted a little as the car battery recharged. He told me something amazing. He said he woke up that morning and prayed that he would be able to help someone that day. I got the feeling that he prays that every day.
I think that is what Paul means when he urges us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Through prayer, we put on Christ and catch a glimpse of the world through his eyes. Through prayer, our eyes will be opened to the people who need our love that day. In prayer, we learn to trust in God as Jesus trusted in God, so that we can pour our energy out in love rather than wasting it on anxiety. Prayer helps us to become more clear about the next right thing that God is calling us to do.
This week, I felt called to join the March for Justice, which came through our area on their way from Harlem to Albany. Several others from the parish went as well. The march was organized by families of prisoners and they are calling for prison reform, to end the human rights abuses that are happening in our prisons. It is something I feel very strongly about. I marched with them for a few hours on Monday and a few hours on Tuesday and attended a potluck in Kingston. They were really inspiring—I would have liked to go all the way with them, but I am clear that my calling is to be here.
And I know they will make it to Albany without me, because people all along the way have signed up to house them and feed them and march with them. I know they will succeed eventually in their quest for mercy and justice, because they are not alone, and because God is always on the side of justice for the poor and oppressed.
We can’t do everything. But we can do something, and each person doing something adds up.
We can wake up each day, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and ask him to show us what we can do to love our neighbor today. And we can stay awake and watchful for that Day—the possibility of transformation in every moment, the promise of God’s work of redemption, the sure and certain hope in God’s goodness and mercy.