“This is the day that the Lord has made . . .”
Young Maya and her family had, over the course of five months, five scheduled dates for her baptismal celebration. As the church closure became extended, her parents had determined again and again that they would wait until we could resume worship and gather for her baptism with the 10:45 a.m. worshipping community in which they had found a home as new members of Trinity. Finally, last Sunday we did gather in the sanctuary following the 9:15 a.m. live streaming of worship in Centennial Hall. With a small congregation made up of the generations of her family, we welcomed young Maya by the waters of Holy Baptism, and she joined the Trinity family as a full member of the Body of Christ. The brief order of Baptism occurred without the sung liturgy, organ, choir and usual congregation. Still, with words of promise, water poured out, the laying on of hands, anointing with the cross of Christ and the lighting of a candle, we marked the day of Maya’s baptism.
The photo here was taken during the 9:15 a.m. live streaming worship service last Sunday. Maya and her family had gathered in front of the screen image of Pastor Dan leading the ‘virtual’ congregation in prayer in the background. Maya is seated on her baptismal quilt, a gift of the TLC Quilters in celebration of her baptism day.
When I was newly among the people of Trinity Lutheran Church, and we scrambled every Sunday to care for the four-worship service Sunday morning sprint, Trinity’s late Pastor Emeritus David Paul graciously offered to begin the 9 a.m. worship service on Sundays while Pastor Sarah and I were concluding the first worship service in the sanctuary. He often greeted the congregation with words from Psalm 118, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” With that biblical affirmation, Pastor David invited the gathered community into worship and joined with the saints throughout the millennia of our faith tradition in commending the day to God.
Pastor David’s hospitality and the words of the Psalmist were on my mind last Sunday as we gathered for Maya’s baptism. This is the day that the Lord has made. It was not the day that we had scripted; it was not the worship service that we had anticipated for Maya’s welcome into the community of faith. None of us could have anticipated six months ago when this beautiful child was born how the world would change as the COVID-19 pandemic spread and affected the way that we would live day to day. Nonetheless, this was the day that the Lord had made. We rejoiced and were, indeed, glad in it.
Yesterday key leaders with the Trinity staff gathered via the increasingly familiar Zoom video platform for our annual “All Staff Calendaring Meeting.” Once a year all of Trinity’s program staff persons submit their calendar entries for the upcoming twelve months and then meet to review how those entries complement each other in projecting the overall ministry program of our congregation. This year that planning meeting was challenging because, as of now, the overall parish calendar is suspended until we can have more meaningful “in person” time together. Nevertheless, we met and approved a calendar of activity that will be ready to go when we are able to resume gathering “in person” at Trinity. Let it be said that the staff at Trinity is hopeful and actively shaping that re-entry ministry program. But for now, we wait . . .
As a devotion for yesterday’s Staff Meeting, I shared a little reflection entitled “Today” by Frederick Buechner. Inspired by Maya’s baptismal celebration, memories of Pastor David and the gathering of the Trinity staff yesterday, I share it with you, a calling to live fully into this day.
It is a moment of light surrounded on all sides by darkness and oblivion. In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another just like it and there will never be another just like it again. It is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious it is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.
“This is the day which the Lord has made,” say the 118th Psalm. “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Or weep and be sad in it for that matter. The point is to see it for what it is because it will be gone before you know it. If you waste it, it is your life that you’re wasting. If you look the other way, it may be the moment you’ve been waiting for always that you’re missing.
All other days have either disappeared into darkness and oblivion or not yet emerged from it. Today is the only day there is. 1
We know the Latin phrase carpe diem, “seize the day.” We certainly know from our best laid plans in 2020 that we cannot always project what is coming, and that living into the current day is often as much as we can do. In the song of the Psalmist the blessings of the current day are attributed to the God of all creation:
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 118:24, 28-29
This is the day that the Lord has made. It may not be the day as you had it scripted, it may not be the future to which you aspired, but today is a gift that is blessed. May we seek to fully live into this day, in our Lord’s name.
Blessings to you, O people of Trinity. May you be safe, may you be well, and may you be held in love. Today.
It remains a privilege to serve as one of your pastors.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Robert Linstrom
1 Buechner, Frederick, Whistling in the Dark; A Doubter’s Dictionary (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), pages 117-118.