Read Psalm 23, Proverbs 3, John 20:30-21:14
Well, congratulations! We did it. 40 days ago, we started this wonderful spiritual adventure, Love Actually: Loving the Things God Loves. It seems like the days have flown by and here we are on day 40. Thank you for walking the walk with me. I hope it has helped in some small part to establish a pattern, create a habit, become a little more intentional in your devotional life. But before we go, let’s talk a bit about how we live after this.
Today is Saturday. Remember the Jesus story changed everything. Up until this point, Saturday was the sabbath, the day of worship. After this, for most Christians, that was moved to Sunday as a memorial to what Jesus accomplished. Saturday became the day we mow grass, polish our shoes, and do the mundane stuff of life between the hard days of the workweek and the celebration of Sunday. And in some ways, that is a metaphor for where we live life. We live is a perpetual Saturday.
We know about tomorrow. Easter. Resurrection Sunday. Up From The Grave and all of that. We remember the agony and pain of yesterday. Good Friday. Death. Defeat. Hitting the bottom. But here’s my question. What about today? What do we do today? How do we live on Saturday? There’s not a lot of specific instruction. In fact, I Googled, “What is the Saturday before Easter called?” and it said, are you ready for this, “The Saturday before Easter.” There’s just not a lot of fanfare for that time period between the catastrophe and the miracle, between the time we cry out in desperation, “God help us,” and that moment when we say, “Thankthellujah, (that’s a Doris word) He did it. Luke 23:56 says, “They rested on the sabbath in keeping with the commandments.” Luke is the only gospel writer that even talks about this Saturday.
So, how do I live on Saturday? Because, to be honest, most of our lives are lived on the Saturday. We probably experience many, too many, Good Fridays in life, those times when it all comes crashing in around us. The doctor says, “Cancer.” Our spouse says, “I want out.” Our boss says, “Clean out your desk.” A lot of those days, but in comparison to the threescore and ten (plus another twenty or so) that we are allotted, not that many. And, when we look back, because God is good, for MOST Good Fridays we have Easters. He comes through. He answers prayer. It may not look exactly like we thought but over the years we see He was faithful. Still, that’s not the majority if our days. The bulk of our lives are lived on Saturday, in what my friend Robert calls, “the waits.” How do we live? Even if we are not feeling the lull between the crisis and the celebration, we are at the very least living between the 1st coming of Jesus and the 2nd, between when He saved us and when He will take us home to be with him. An old southern Gospel song says, “between the Cross and Heaven there’s a whole lot of livin’ goin’ on.” So, how do we live on Saturday? Let me give you three words.
We live our lives as sacramental. Romans 12:1 says to “present your bodies as living sacrifices.” Psalm 97:11 says, “Light shines on the righteous and joy on the upright in heart.” I Peter 1:15, “Be holy in all you do.” On Saturday, we live every moment as holy, sacred, as a sacrament offered back to the One who got us through Good Friday. Every moment in your life is a sacred moment. Whether praying with a friend over the telephone or changing your kid’s diaper in Walmart, we live sacramental, sacred, holy. We live as if every day is being offered to God as a living sacrifice because it is. We stay present, live in the moment, and dedicate every breath, every step to Him as a tool to be used for His glory. My father-in-law used to pray, “Only one life, will soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
This leads me to the second word. We live our lives as sacerdotal. “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,” says 1 Peter 2:9. Paul says, “I urge you to live worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (Ephesians 4:1) Sacerdotal just means priestly, having to do with the priestly functions. You may not have a theological degree. Maybe you never attended seminary. But you are a priest, today, on this Saturday. You are a priest to that neighbor that stops by because she is hurting, to those grandkids that climb up in your lap and say, “Tell us a story,” to that spouse that is looking to you to be the spiritual head if the home. Whether in the assembly line or in the family room, you’re a priest. So be priestly today. In fact, being priestly, doing the work of God, while you are waiting for the big ol’ Easter celebration of life is what gives meaning to the pain, and agony of your Good Fridays. God never wastes a hurt. He will, if you let Him, use your pain to make you a priest to someone else.
Finally, that means that on Saturday, we live lives that are societal. Okay, I might have made that word up. Nope, I didn’t. I just Googled it. We are in this thing together. We really do need each other. God made us all to be a part of the whole, to love, care for, share with, minister to one another. Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens.” I John 4:7, “Dear friends, let us love one another.” John Donne wrote:
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
We are all in this together. When I twirl my finger in a pond it sends ripples across the water, when I breathe it creates a whirlpool in humanity. We really do need each other. We affect and impact each other. On Facebook, in rush hour traffic, sitting beside my aging parent, on this Saturday I am trying to live in a way that is societal, connected in a positive way to all the world. When one person in the world suffers, no matter the color of their skin or the language they speak, I should hurt a little bit. And when I stoop to help one derelict out of the gutter, the whole world is a little better for it.
The 23rd Psalm says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil.” What is the valley of death? Well, it’s all of life between the first breath we ever take and the last. It is the place we go about our day-to-day, humdrum business we call life. It is Saturday, the time between meeting Jesus for the first time and MEETING JESUS when He comes riding in on a White Horse. The whole thing, from Good Friday to Easter is just walking along in the valley of death, not being afraid, doing the things we think He would want us to do. So, live that life in a holy, priestly, and connected manner. Be sacramental. Be sacerdotal. Be societal. You matter. You matter to Him. You matter to the people around you. He needs you. They need you. Love Him. Love them. Love Actually. Have a great Saturday.
Have a blessed and glorious Easter tomorrow. On Monday I will do one final video to sum up what we have “learned” during these 6 weeks. Thank you for being a part. If you want to stay connected, sign up for the blog at www.branchesblog.com and subscribe to the podcast, “What Difference Does That Make?” wherever you download your favorite podcast. Also, look for the hashtag #takeaminutemakeadiffernce on FaceBook and Instagram.
Thanks, Mike. I have been blessed to walk these 40 days with you.
I hope you and Doris…and the rest….had a beautiful Resurrection Day!