By: Dr. Michael Gardner
“Regret empties anticipation, flattens dreams, and suffocates hope,
because regret is a form of self-punishment. Whereas hindsight
helps us learn from the past, regret beats us up with the past.”
(Alicia Britt Chole, 40 Days of Decrease)
I began the traditional services yesterday at Old Mission with these words: “This is the last day of Spring Break, and the middle of the NCAA Basketball tournament. But more important than either of those things … this is the day that the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it together!”
Every Sunday, we are caught up in the dance between the sacred and the secular. We bring our latest worries and our most recent moments of joy in the door with us. We struggle through the weekly rhythm of “getting ready for Church” – finding car keys, or remembering to take our pills, or trying to ensure that our children remember to wear shoes, and trying, often unsuccessfully, to be on time. Sometimes we treat our times of worship as a retreat from “the world” so we can find a few moments of peace, but even then the world is much with us. We usually mentally check what remains undone at home, or review brunch plans, or begin to calculate the rest of the stops we have scheduled on our day of rest.
Sometimes, I think Church folks and preachers like me seek too stringent boundaries around the idea of a “Sunday Sabbath,” as if we could ever completely disengage from the rest of our lives in order to spend some time with God. Such rigid boundaries are unattainable, and I think not very helpful. They often simply leave us with feelings of failure and regret, thinking that we can’t even get that right. My understanding of the Good News of Jesus runs counter to the idea that we can separate the sacred from the secular anyway. Generations of our ancestors sang the old hymn, “We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder,” which invites us to go “higher, higher” to find God. I like the hymn but it is Biblically incorrect. In the Bible story, the flow goes the other way. God comes down the ladder to Jacob, as it does to us. The Incarnation, Jesus coming among us, was about God taking the initiative to come to us, to join us in the midst of our daily lives. God in Jesus, has made our secular lives sacred, and holy. I love Alicia Britt Chole’s wisdom: “I invite you to fast regret. Do not feed it. Do not give it space. Let it go: ‘God’s mercies are new every morning.’ As Jesus said, in Revelation 21:5, ‘Behold, I am making all things new!’” On Sunday, I’ll talk more about leaving regret behind us. My message is entitled "A Fast from Regret.” So, join us at 8:30, 9:45 or 11am on March 25 for our Palm Sunday Services. Children will process will palms at all three services. I’ll see you (which my recent eye surgery makes easier) in Church!
If you would like to revisit a past "Beyond Believing" article, please refer to the archive.