Admittedly, I did not begin my day well for a variety of reasons which I will not go into. I just not get started well and I was not looking forward to the day at all. But, my professor of Pastoral Care and Homiletics Bob Giuliano told me a long time ago, “Son, there will be days when you feel like all you want to do is cry or crawl away in a hole. But you will get up and drag yourself out, dust off the obvious signs of fatigue and sorrow and do what you have to do. You’ll be surprised what you will accomplish. What you can’t do is just give up – play through the pain.” I thought of Bob this morning quite a bit (A shout out to my United Church Friends here – this man is good and is sons are great as well).
What is remarkable is how a day can turn around and more remarkable what makes it turn around. My task this morning was to visit the Nursing Home to celebrate communion with some friends from our own version of the NHL – that is the Nursing Home Lions, a group of dedicated parishioners of St. Mark’s who go to all nursing home liturgies with me. I am embarrassed to say that I pulled up to the home thinking, “I can’t believe I have to face this today.” All I could see before I went through those doors was my self, my needs, my concerns, my mood. How embarrassing! I was transformed in that Nursing Home today. I came back to the office and began to read. I needed to be convicted of my own self-centeredness and refocus on God. One of the things I read was Proverbs chapter 3. Here is an excerpt from “The Message”- a biblical paraphrase.
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honour God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
a father’s delight is behind all this. (Verses 5-12)
I was sulking in the worst kind of way this morning – and in the liturgy this morning I met Jesus in the breaking of the bread. In the lives of the residents I found Jesus of Nazareth. It was much easier to trust God when I found God. At once my whole demeanour changed and I knew that things would be better today. Part of the grief that I was feeling was that these good servants were going to get poor liturgy and low effort from someone who should really be giving them as good as he would give everyone else. The truth be told in the moments of transformation I was surprised at how much I could give in liturgy this morning and what the residents received was, I believe, very good liturgy. It is good to be reminded that I need to “listen for God’s voice in everything [I] do, and everywhere [I] go.” I heard that voice, so to speak, today loud and clear in the joy expressed by the residents of Extendicare. I believe it true that God can keep me and all of us on track. And I must say I like the idea of having my” wine vats brim over.”
The other thing that I read [again] was a little book of excerpts from C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters entitled Paved with Good Intention: A Demons Road Map to your Soul. I picked this little book up a year ago and have gone back to it many times. I LOVED Screwtape Letters as I believed it to be a very cleaver explanation of how insidious darkness is and how it finds its way into our everyday lives. In this book and so it follows in the little pocket book Paved with Good Intentions a senior devil Screwtape is writing letters to his nephew Wormwood. The advice he offers on how to get into the lives of believers is helpful for those of us trying to make the right choices. God knows that I do not always make the best choices. Here is the piece that I found most helpful today.
“We want him to be in maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy [God]. He wants [people] to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”
We are reminded in Matthew chapter 6 that worrying does not help us much in life and I fear this morning I may have forgotten this. But alas my UC friend Bob Giuliano was correct. Even when it seems impossible to get out and get going, God has a way of being in the middle of it all. Thanks Bob – you got me going today.
Thank God for days like this – I feel much better when I have been on a journey – even when parts of the trip are stormy. Thank God as well that I do NOT know it all! It’s all good.
To finish it all off I recieved my daily cartoon from "The Back Pew" by Jeff Larson which brought me to full laughter.
Here its is