Easter 4 May 7, 2017 From the Daily Mass, To the Daily Mess
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Ask the people who know me best, and they will tell you that I am one who loves routine. I feel my best, I’m most productive, I’m most at home; when I maintain a rhythm to my day.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that I work hard to maintain my routine. But it has it’s down side.
In my home I’m known as Mr. Saturday Night. That does not mean I like to party on Saturday night. Actually it is a joke, for I’m known as being no fun on Saturday night. My routine is to stay home and go to bed early.
Yes, when you’re a person of routine, when you seek to maintain a daily rhythm; you’re not known for being spontaneous, in fact there is even a danger of being known as boring.
But this morning I ask, can holiness be found in the mundane?
I’m drawn to the familiar words of the 23rd Psalm this morning, especially the very last verse.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
Do we feel this goodness and mercy every day? Are there some days when you feel like goodness and mercy are not following you around?
The beloved psalm ends,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Do we dwell in the Lord’s house my whole life long? Are there days when you feel like you are dwelling in somebody else’s house?
I feel like the psalmist is calling us not to be boring, but to find a daily rhythm. If goodness and mercy is going to follow us every day, we have to see God in the everyday occurrences of life.
I don’t know if I would have fit well in the early church. There is too much excitement in the book of Acts.
In our first lesson this morning we hear about what’s happening.
Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.
The early church is not mundane. Last week as Peter preached his Easter sermon in Jerusalem we were told how 3,000 people were baptized in one day! About all I handle is Benicio’s baptism this morning.
At the end of our lesson this morning we hear:
And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
This is what happens when there are many signs and wonders being done in the church. My guess is that people would come to church not knowing what to expect.
But it didn’t last.
I enjoy reading Daniel Clendenin in his blog Journey With Jesus. This week he wrote how the prevalence of all these signs and wonders gradually began to wane in the church. And as all the dreams, and visions, and miracles became less vivid, Clendenin writes that the institution of the church became more defined.
He calls attention to the early church father Hippolytus of Rome, who in 235 wrote: “The miraculous visions and direct communications with the Spirit ended with the Revelation of John in the year 100. The spirit works differently now than in apostolic days. God speaks clearly, sufficiently, and reliably through the canon of Scripture, the creeds, and the clergy.”
Maybe this is why I feel quite at home in the church. We’ve settled into a routine. As you come to worship you know that today’s service looks pretty much like last week’s service. I don’t think anyone came expecting signs and wonders this morning. And perhaps this makes us a bit boring, the established church might lose some of the awe; yet God’s presence in the liturgy is no less real.
And what’s true in church is true in life.
The 16th Century Spanish mystic, Teresa of Avila said, “The Lord walks among the pots and pans.”
We might look to experience God on the mountain top, or at the ocean, or in a walk through the forest. And it’s true. We all have our mountain top experiences, but they don’t happen every day.
Most of life is routine. We might wonder if there can be anything holy about cooking dinner. Maybe if you love to cook. But can there be anything holy about cleaning up after dinner? Doing the dishes?
But if goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives, if we really do dwell in the house of the Lord our whole life long; then God is in the mundane.
Even if your life is exciting, most of life is lived in the daily rhythms; in our cooking and cleaning, in walking the dog, in the daily commute.
This explains why Celtic prayers are popular. The Celtic tradition is known for simple prayers by ordinary people about everyday life. These prayers show us how we meet the sacred in the mundane. The Celts have prayers for getting dressed in the morning and going to sleep at night. They have prayers for waking up and lightning the morning’s fire. They pray for birth and death, healing and protection, farming and fishing, and even for milking the cows.
Daniel Clendenin writes, these are not prayers of the institutional church, they are not ecstatic utterances of miraculous visions; but they are dignified, and eloquent. They speak to the ordinary yet sacred stuff of life.
In our gospel this morning we hear how Jesus comes to bring us abundant life. It’s what the psalmist refers to as the green pastures. It is the place where our souls are restored.
Yes we all need a little excitement in life. We all need to experience signs and wonders that inspire awe.
But for goodness and mercy to follow us all the days of our lives, to dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long, this morning start seeing the holy in the mundane. Know that God is present in the routine. Join Teresa of Avila, and see God in the pots and pans.