How often have you said to yourself, or others, ‘If only I could find a way of inventing another day in the week…’?
One more day in the week would mean I could get those unfinished tasks finished; I could achieve that thing I have always wanted to achieve; I could actually tick off that last thing on the ‘to do’ list and start with a clean slate; I could once again enjoy that ‘something’ which is consistently squeezed out of my busy life… What would one extra day mean for you?
If you are reading this at the end of February, or the very beginning of March, then you and I have just had that ‘extra day’. We have just had, or are just contemplating having, that extra February day which comes every four years, in a Leap Year. And what did, or will, we do with it? Did you, or will you, even notice it? Or was it, or will it, in fact become like each and every other day of the week? Did you, or will you, throw yourself at it and fill it, or let it slip by in just the same way as the day before it, and the day after it?
This year that ‘extra day’ also nestles right at the beginning of a period which, at least in the church, we mark out as a specific number of days. It is the season of Lent with its forty days and forty nights –as well as a fair number of Sundays thrown in for good measure!
And those forty days and forty nights have been traditionally set aside for the business of journeying toward Easter with some sort of renewed purpose and intent. The biblical tradition asks us to think of the period which Jesus spent in the wilderness as he prepared for ministry, and going further back to think of the forty years which the people of Israel spent journeying through the wilderness towards the Promised Land.
It was during that more lengthy wilderness experience that the people were fed with manna – ‘bread from heaven’. It was miraculously provided each new dawn, and the Israelites were clearly told that it must only be gathered and kept for that one day. That day, and the food for that day, and the strength for the journey of that day, was the focus. Some have seen that same message being re-iterated by Jesus when he taught his first followers to pray “Give us this day our daily bread…”
Our bread – and God’s gracious provision – is for today. It is a daily gift.
Can we, this year, see our 40 day journey through Lent in that way? Can we see each day, not as one which if only it had more hours in it might work for us but, as one which is gift, filled with God’s presence and provision? Can we see each day as a day to reflect upon our relationship with God, our relationship with our neighbour (seen and unseen), our relationship with creation, and as a day to resist thinking it will be different or better, or easier to do that, tomorrow. It won’t!
Today is the day for you and me to be with God and to know that God is with us. Tomorrow never comes. When it does, it is simply another ‘today’, and God’s daily presence and provision is just the same.
Lent gives us 40 days plus Sundays, and the opportunity to choose to savour each of them as a ‘today with God’. Have a look at the possibilities provided by our parish Lenten programme; make your own commitment to a ‘daily’ act of pausing, in some way which will work for you, to reflect upon your relationship with God, with neighbour and with creation; and thank God for his daily presence and provision.
Carolyn (Vicar)