"Have a Nice Day!" we are frequently told by well-meaning people. If they have anything in mind when they say these words, it would be a reference to the next few hours: at best a short-lived kind of secular blessing that would run out when darkness falls.

As Christians we have our own more biblical saying. "This is the day that the Lord has made!" We often say it on Sundays where it sometimes has an ever shorter time-frame in mind. A kind of religious version of "Have a nice meeting!" but the blessing will wear off by lunch time.

We say it to genuinely encourage one another, desiring, as the verse continues, that "we will rejoice and be glad in it". But the "it" in which we will rejoice is equally short lived: "it" is the day that our calendars tell us we are currently inhabiting. Tomorrow, will be another day, albeit another day that the Lord will also have made.

All of this reflects our focus to live in the now: it's this current 24-hour slice of history that is uppermost in our mind. And, since that is what we are most concerned about, we really want it to be nice. A nice day. We want to enjoy it. If we are Christians, we will talk of that in terms of rejoicing.

It all seems so biblical. God has made today just for me to enjoy! But it's another of those feel-good verses that we unthinkingly pull out of context to make them mean what we want them to mean without stopping to think what they really mean. We claim it as a promise of something neither God nor the verse ever said.

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24). Like all texts it has a context. It comes at the end of a stanza that includes another well-known verse, yet the two are rarely quoted together. We read two verses earlier: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone".

This is the day? Which day is that? Not just your average Sunday morning. But The Day when Jesus, having been rejected by the Jews, became the the foundational center-piece of the the New Covenant people of God who were thereby built into a new Temple. As the earlier part of the stanza tells us, it is the day when the gates of the Lord were opened for the righteous, those who are righteous in Christ. The day when were given access to enter forever into the presence of the Lord.

This is The Day in which we are to rejoice, for the Lord, after centuries of planning, has made it for us! It is the Day of the New Covenant, the Day of the Gospel, the Day on which the Spirit of the Lord is poured out onto all flesh to draw men and women of every tribe and nation into God's family. It is the Day of the Lord. Our rejoicing is not in the happiness of having a nice day between now and when the sun goes down. It is in the forever Day that is filled with forever joy that is found in being built into the family of God through the righteousness of Christ.

So even if, despite the positive thoughts of so many well-wishers, this current 24-hour period doesn't prove to be particularly nice, it is only what Paul calls momentary. Of this we can be sure: we will have a nice forever day, even if it rains this afternoon. 

0 comments: