Thursday, 3 March 2011

The miracle of daily life

Mars Hill Bible Church (in Grand Rapids, Michigan) is a rare thing, a liberal mega-church. It's also a source of wonderful sermons, which they make available as podcasts. They've just finished exploring the book of Ecclesiastes ("vanity, vanity, all is vanity" - except that as every sermon they give emphasises, the Hebrew word translated as "vanity", or "meaningless" in modern texts, is better translated as "vapour", temporary and passing rather than unimportant).

Last night I listened to a sermon from a few weeks ago, given by Shane Hipps. It was full of wisdom, but especially talked about living life to the full. Here are some extracts from near the end, starting about minute 38 (I've not noted omissions):

"There is one miracle that is as important as the Resurrection and in fact it is so important that if this other miracle didn't happen, the Resurrection is impossible. The Resurrection is irrelevant if this other miracle didn't happen first. Do you know what that miracle is? You were born. If you were never born, if you never lived this life, there is no resurrection for you. This is the miracle. It's unfolding right now before your very eyes, this is the miracle. If we cannot appreciate the first miracle of our existence, what makes us think we will appreciate the second one of resurrection? If we can't actually see how extraordinary this gift of life is right now, do you really think you're going to appreciate it when you get it again? We must learn to enjoy every moment of this passing life."

Brilliant stuff. And it goes along with something posted by a friend to Facebook, about the quality of life to be found in a baby who has the degenerative disease Tay-Sachs, but right now is full of life and doesn't know anything other than the present moment. It's a heart-wrenching but life-affirming read.

As another Mars Hill sermon on Ecclesiastes said, the past is gone; the future is yet to be. The only reality is the present moment, and our greatest joy can be found in celebrating that moment.

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