Those of us who are old enough to remember the 1960’s will recall how important a genre of music called “folk music” was in that era. One of the early folk music groups was The New Christy Minstrels, founded by songwriter/guitarist Randy Sparks in 1961. One of Sparks’ hit songs, recorded by this group in 1964, is entitled simply Today. Some of the words of this song came to mind as I reflected on the relationship between the past, present, and future.
Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine
I’ll taste your strawberries, I’ll drink your sweet wine
A million tomorrows shall all pass away
‘Ere I forget all the joy that is mine, Today
I can’t be contented with yesterday’s glory
I can’t live on promises winter to spring
Today is my moment, now is my story
I’ll laugh and I’ll cry and I’ll sing
In this bit of poetry set to a lovely tune, Randy Sparks and The New Christy Minstrels reminded us to appreciate the present moment and cherish the joy of now. I once heard a preacher put it in a less poetic but equally effective way: “Yesterday’s gone. Tomorrow hasn’t come yet. Today is all we have. Use it!”
During a time of transition between rectors, our church is engaged in a process of reflecting upon the past and discerning the future into which God is calling us. As we do this, we want to remember that if heritage and hope do not inform the way we live today, we are destined to be prisoners of our past or disciples of our daydreams. Either way, we are disconnected from the present, which is the scene of the greatest reality.
A visitor to the Vatican was approached by a sidewalk peddler outside the walls. He was offering a hen, a very special hen, for sale. “This hen is a direct descendant of the cock that crowed when Peter denied the Lord,” said the peddler. “Yes,” responded the visitor, “but does it lay eggs?” Whatever the hen’s past or future, the visitor wanted to know if she was doing what hens do today.
Jesus joined the past and the future together in a new way. He is the intersection of the horizontal dimension of time and the vertical dimension of spiritual reality. He warned the religious leaders that their genealogy did not relieve them of responsibility for their present actions. Likewise, he warned the rich young man that good intentions, no matter how worthy, could not give him the eternal life he was seeking at the present moment. Addressing the crowd in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times…but I say unto you.” He said to the woman at the well, “The time is coming and now is.” Each step away from the past and into the future is dependent upon the spiritual dimension we refer to as “The Kingdom of God.”
Let us enter faithfully into this process of discovery and discernment so that this community of faith may be fruitful and vibrant in the here and now. And may we cherish the opportunity and the joy that are ours today!