There is a country and western hymn written in the 1970’s that we are all familiar with: “One day at a time, sweet Jesus, one day at a time”. Marijon Wilkins wrote it at a time when it looked like she had everything: money, nice clothes, fine car, but she didn’t feel like she was in the right place; she only wanted to be a gospel music writer. After speaking with a young minister in a small country church who asked her one question: “Did you ever think about thanking God for your problems?”, she went home and with Kris Kristofferson, wrote this song. From that one question comes the focus that begins our Advent reflections for this year.
Over the last months, I have heard people say and thought it myself that we cannot wait to get back to normal. But all of todays readings point us in another way. They call us to remember that we cannot change the past. We can only live today in “joyful hope” of the Lord’s coming. However, that doesn’t mean sitting around doing nothing waiting for Jesus to come. He will come again, but will we recognize him? Will we know him? In reality, this is the Christian paradox. Our normal is that there is no normal. We are a people who live in the expectation of a new heaven and a new earth but living out the message of Jesus today. We need to pray the words of the song:
That’s all I am asking of You,
Just give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do.
Yesterday’s all done, sweet Jesus
And tomorrow may never be mine
Lord help me today, show me the way
One day at a time.
The people of Israel in the part of Isaiah we heard were in the exile of Babylon longing to go home but realizing that their “normal” had led them into the exile. They prayed their problems in the hope of a Messiah who would bring them home to the land of Israel. The admitted their faults before God and realized that if God brought them home, it needed to be different. We need to do the same. But the lesson we learn from them is that when things begin to calm down, we cannot go backwards. We need to realize that the problems of today are teaching us to live our Christian lives in new and in faith filled way today.
One day at a time sweet Jesus
That’s all I’m asking of you
Just give me the strength
to do everyday what I have to
Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus
Tomorrow may never be mine
Lord, help me today, show me the way
One day at a time
This year’s Advent season can be the moment of our conversion if we just turn to the Lord and ask for the strength to be awake. When, not if, Jesus comes, he expects us to be busy doing the mission he left us to do. Remember last weeks Gospel,
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.
This is the normal of a Christian and this is the work we are to be doing when he comes again. We can only do it one day at a time.
The Advent season we begin this year is the challenge to live one day at a time in joyful hope of the new heavens and the new earth that only Jesus can bring, but, we need to do our part today. Do not waste this time looking backward! That is all done and over. The mission is now; it is today.
May we live “one day at a time, Sweet Jesus, one day at a time”.