Ordinary Days

In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard reminds us of something that is at once obvious and shocking: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

There’s also this Facebook offer going around called My Life in Weeks, where you can input your year of birth and based on your life expectancy, they will send you a poster of how many weeks you have left to live! Up on the screen is mine. For those of us who are most definitely in the second half of life, this can be a little shocking. Especially when we don’t feel much different on the inside than we did when we were in our twenties or thirties.

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

That little phrase can make you stop short and think, is this what is important? Is there love and joy in my life, no matter what my circumstances?

The invasion of Ukraine has dominated the news for the past 10 days, photographs and newscasts seared into our eyeballs. Incredible courage and determination of the Ukrainian people. The shame and embarrassment of the Russian conscripts that have been captured.

Fear here in Canada, fear for connections in Ukraine, fear that this invasion is going to unleash something that is going to affect us all in ways that are almost unimaginable for those who have grown up in peacetime, fear of rising prices that affect all of us, but that are going to affect already marginalized communities the greatest. Fear is an appropriate response to danger, so there is no shame in feeling fearful and anxious. but is that how we want to spend our days?

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

Jesus seemed to know this, from the moment of his baptism, where he heard the voice of God calling him beloved, he seemed to know that how we spent his days, would be how he spent his life. Let’s listen, to part of a very ordinary day in Jesus’ life, it’s written down in the gospel according to Mark, in the first chapter:

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

How many of us make plans for someday? When I lose weight, when the kids are grown, when I have more time, when I, when I, when I… Surely I can’t be the only one who has put obligation before joy. James Clear in his book Atomic Habits writes about the difference between motion and action. He suggests that you can do all the things to get ready for an action, those are the motions, but if you never get around to taking action, you haven’t done anything. I’ll give you an example, just before the pandemic hit, I looked up the lane swimming schedule on line at the Sportsplex, I love to swim and thought perhaps I could swim at least one day a week on my way home. I called to see if there was a seniors’ discount! I bought a new swimming suit. Now, in my own defense, a week or so later, EVERYTHING shut down. But things have reopened… have I been swimming? No. I did all the getting ready to swim, but I didn’t actual swim. Anyone else do anything like that? And who knows, maybe Jesus spent his first 30 years doing things like that!

But when he heard that voice from God, calling him beloved, something switched on in him. His ordinary days took on a meaning, purpose and passion that they didn’t have before. But they were still his ordinary days. Let’s look at that day again. “He got up and went out to a deserted place and prayed”

He knew that God was the source of his strength and he didn’t let the demands of others wanting his attention keep him away from that strength. It is really hard not to be overcome by the evil that our 24 hour news cycle offers up to us, and we have a source of strength that is greater than any evil, a source of strength that is always available, a source of love that cannot be crushed no matter what, if only we tap into it.

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

When Simon and the others found him, he said, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.”

Our Lent theme is Who Is Our Neighbour, both the neighbour around the corner and the neighbour across the world. We know that we are interconnected. Our gas prices alone tell us that! And perhaps our gas prices will wind up having us know our local neighbours better. I don’t know about you, but I hardly know my neighbours, mostly because I work and of course, even though I’ve been working from home much of the last two years, we weren’t doing much socializing.

What would it mean to get to know the neighbours around the church? Not as a method of getting them to come to church, but simply to build relationships with them? That’s one o the reasons for the Neighbourhood Lent Project. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m going to tell you about it again.

You’re invited to donate an extra $25 to the church, however you usually make your offering, cash, e-transfer, etc. Sandra will purchase them and I will distribute them the homes on the streets surrounding the church. I’ll start with Hester Street, then move on to Henry, then Jamieson and Elm if we have have enough gift cards. Please use the words Neighbourhood Lent Project. I will put them in a card which will invite the recipients to use the card themselves if they need it, give to someone else, or use to buy things for an organization they support. I will distribute them on my walks around the neighbourhood and keep track. It’s all part of loving our neighbour.

Here’s another way to love our neighbour! PIE Day is coming up on March 14th! Remember PIE Day from last year. We had a PIE Day auction. PIE stands for Public, Intentional and Explicit support for LGBT+ people. This year, you are invited to bake a pie and take it to a neighbour along with this postcard. There’s room enough on it for you to put your name and address or phone number if you want to.

Perhaps someone you know well enough to say hi to, but never had a conversation with on your street and you don’t know their name. Someone you’ve seen them in the laundry room in your building. Someone who’s recently moved into the neighbourhood. It’s not a fundraiser, it’s not anything flashy, just an invitation to connect with a neighbour.

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

We think it’s normal and customary to fly a rainbow flag and include LGBTQ people in all aspects of our life together, but you know, every time I go out in public with my rainbow collar on, I get comments on it. Many people are still stuck in the idea that churches are confine God’s love to those who are heterosexual.

Jesus essential message was one of love, and nothing says love like food and pie! He said, the two essential laws were Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.

And the last part of the reading: 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

I understand that casting out demons is a metaphor for healing in this passage. I wonder in the midst of our Lenten them of Loving Our Neighbour, we make sure to include each other as neighbours. We have been through almost two years of Covid and we were just starting to have some hope and now we are faced with a great big unknown right now. Let’s be kind and gentle with ourselves and with each other. Let’s celebrate moments of joy, even in the midst of worry and fear and pain. Because if we don’t celebrate them, what are we even living for?

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

A sermon or reflection should always have a central message, a call to action, or a ‘so what’ for the congregation. And this is all three for you and for me: pray, share God’s love with our neighbours, neighbours both near and far, and offer healing of all kinds to one another.

How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

Thanks be to God for the challenge and the opportunity of following Jesus, amen.

Mark 1:35-39
March 6, 2022 – SMUC

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