Let’s take a short stroll down memory lane.
How many of you remember an actress by the name of Doris Day? How about her signature song? I remember hearing it on the sitcom titled “The Doris Day Show”? Remember the theme song? (Que Sera, Sera) The four verses of the song progress through the life of the narrator-from childhood, through young adulthood and falling in love, to parenthood – and each asks, “What will I be?” or “What lies ahead?” The chorus repeats the answer: “Que Sera, Sera, Whatever, will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see, Que Sera, Sera, what will be, will be.”
Here is one that has stuck with me for a long time. If you were watching TV back in the 1980’s. Surely you remember the Old Milwaukee commercials. Where the guys were sitting around the campfire drinking that mediocre at best beer and saying, “Fellas, it just doesn’t get any better than this.” Certainly, the sentiment was how can life be any better!
I recall another commercial that I also saw some time ago. It was an interesting ad for Pepsi. It depicted young people celebrating, socializing, and having a generally great time on what seemed to be a rooftop party. The ad concluded with the campaign’s slogan, “live for now.” The whole thing felt to me like a promotion for a life of depravity and debauchery- essentially, that one should embrace momentary pleasures with disregard for future consequences.
Now let me change gears, quite a bit.
The day is Tuesday June 6, 1944. The place, just off the shores of Normandy. 5,000 ships carrying 175,000 Allied Troops approached the southern beaches in France for the largest invasion in modern history… What we know as D-Day.
Some of the men who survived the invasion said that they remember in the final minutes before the ships landed the steady stream of messages and exhortations being broadcast over the ship intercoms: “Fight to get your troops ashore. Fight to save your ships. And if you’ve got any strength left, fight to save yourself.” Another went, we shall die on the sands of France, but we will never turn back.” Another one, “This is it. Pick it up. Put it on. You’ve got a one-way ticket, and this is the end of the line.”
However, the two messages that the survivors most remembered was the clear call at about 6:20, “Away all boats and Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”
History tells us that over 12,000 Americans died that day in a span of about 15 minutes. As the boats reached the shores the disembarking soldiers literally had to crawl over the bodies of other soldiers to get to shore.
I certainly realize that the image that I just shared isn’t pleasant. In fact, it is quite sobering, certainly makes me and I expect you very grateful to those men and their sacrifice for us. I share it this morning because it thinks it’s important to note the men that approached the beach at Normandy that day had no delusions that they were going to the beach for a vacation. They understood from the very beginning, exactly what they were walking into. They knew there was a vicious enemy who wanted to kill them and that many of them would die. They went anyway.
I use these two completely different and perhaps opposite stories because even though extreme, they are great illustrations of the choices we have and the ways we choose to live life. Is it going to be taking life as it comes, life is a party, Que Sera, Sera what will be will be? Or do we choose to go about our lives in a deliberate manner? Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)!
Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that all of life should be serious. I’m not saying that it is wrong to enjoy friends and to make the most of the good times in life. I certainly try to.
I think this is what the Apostle Paul was trying to get at in his letter to the Ephesians this morning. “Be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time. Do not be foolish; but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit.” Paul was warning against the folly of overindulgence in strong drink. He used the example of drunkenness because it must have been common in the pagan world. Paul called out drunkenness as example of how things like liquor can control our lives if we allow them. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The example of drunkenness must have been something that his audience could relate to, as we can find other cautions about over indulgence in the New Testament. A temptation to Christians as well. He was making the point that the danger of drunkenness was two-fold: first, is the act itself, and the second is what it may induce. One will be more likely to do things while intoxicated, that he can easier resist while sober. Paul uses the word debauchery a word very seldom used today, dissoluteness or dissipation. “Wild living” like the prodigal son. Extravagant squandering both of money, our bodies and our time here on earth, (our lives). Paul says, “If they are wise, Christians will avoid all such excess.” Take note here: he doesn’t say abstinence, which we might have expected. That’s Good News! Instead he urges his readers to draw on the reinvigorating resources of the Holy Spirit.
Paul was saying, instead “Come eat of the living bread that came down from Heaven.” The bread that Jesus was describing in our Gospel Lesson. His Body. In other words, choose to eat of the bread that gives life, eternal life.
The message here is, “Be careful how you live.” Intentional living; be intentional with your time. Make the most of it. (Let me share a secret); Often, I don’t feel like seeking God. I get up in the morning, the last thing I feel like is reading my Bible. I have at least 1000 other things that draw my attention, things that I need to do, the draw of the computer, emails, getting started with “my list” of things. And it doesn’t end there, I overcome the urge to skip reading the Bible. Then I sometimes find the lessons in the Daily Lectionary are too long. Why so many verses in the Psalm? I don’t have time, are my thoughts. All distractions.
I have to come to know this, If I want to know someone, to love someone, if I’m going to grow in my relationship with them I must spend time with them. Laura and I are the best when we spend time together, when we talk, and focus on each other. It is no different with God, we must spend time with Him. Today’s message for me is that I must be intentional about my use of time. To do that, I must set priorities. If I want to develop something, I must make it a priority. God, My Marriage, My Church. If I don’t plan the time, someone or something else will. If I don’t get in control of how I make use of my time, the trajectory of my life will be directed by the world. Not always all bad, however, just tedium; the tyranny of the urgent. It’s not like we are going to miss growing with God because we are worshiping the Devil. It is just that there is so much tedious stuff that gets in the way, we simply run out of time and if we aren’t careful we end up neglecting the things that are important. Paul said, why do I do the things that I don’t want to do and don’t the things that I that want to do. Life stuff simply gets in the way!
We have all been on Summer Vacation. I hope, lots of great memories were created. The break that comes with summer is the time that we can get away, our regular routine changes. Summer is a time when things are much more casual. We allow our kids to stay up later, sleep later, some of us might get to stay in bed a little longer as well! We enjoyed the “freedom” of the months of June, July and August, didn’t we? But, admit it, weren’t some of you parents ready for school to start? Weren’t you ready to get back into routine? How many of you parents started moving the kids toward an earlier bed time the week before last, the week before school started, in hopes of making last week, the first week of school at least a little easier?
As you know, our schedule here at Good Shepherd changes during the summer months as well. Our Wednesday evening dinners and programming take a break. We change our worship on Sunday morning to 9:30 giving us an opportunity to be together, when we move to one service instead of 8:00 and 10:15. Each summer I hear the same: (the 10:15 worshiper’s think 9:30 is too early, and our 8:00 worshiper’s think 9:30 is too late!) Even for those of us who resist routine, we like our routines don’t we? Some of us might use the summer months to “take a break, here and there on a Sunday morning” and stay home. Allowing the rhythm that is summer to take over. Today however, is the “official day”, Rally Sunday. Perhaps, I might even call today Pentecost! Today is the day we at Good Shepherd set aside to begin preparing for the “regular programming” of our church. Today we invite you to come take a look at the many opportunities to join in, opportunities that we have for you as we make the move to get back in routine.
I’m hoping today is the day we begin setting priorities of how we are going to make use our time in the months ahead. Hopefully things that might, just might, make a difference in the rest of our lives here on earth. Is this the time, is this the year, when you will get to know Jesus and feel His presence in a new way? Perhaps, even for the first time?
Come, make plans, come and be a part, a very important part of one of the programs or groups designed to help us all in our walk with Christ. I wonder sometimes why people stay away and don’t join in. Perhaps, we don’t get involved because we don’t feel like we have something to contribute, or perhaps we haven’t been “invited.” Today, is the day that you all have been officially invited! And, I can assure you that everyone has something to contribute.
Come join us in the Parish Hall immediately after the service. Our program leaders are ready to greet you and share all the details.
I will close with a short quote from a book titled “The Walk” by Stephen Smallman. I recommend it. “Being a Disciple of Jesus is a personal response to the call of Jesus; but, we are also called to be part of a community, a fellowship of disciples. This is the essence of the church Jesus came to build.”
We are all called to a life in Christ. We won’t discover our calling or live it unless we are intentional. We are all at different places in our own journey of life. We are family, helping each other along the way. Let us do this journey together as we live into that special calling that God has for each one of us. This is the essence of the church Jesus came to build!