The Best Part of the Day

April 3, 2005

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

Psalm 27

John 20: 19-31

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning. I have a question to ask you today. I invite you to think about this for yourself: What is the best part of the day? Have you ever frozen a moment and said, “Wow, this is the best part of my day!”? What is it for you? For some people, it’s getting up in the morning and saying, “I feel energized, alive, awake, alert, and enthusiastic about life.” Some people say that. I’m sure they do. For some, morning is the best time of the day.

 

For some people, getting a hug from a family member, from a loved one, is the best part of the day. For some, seeing the face of a child. For some, it’s getting home from work and sitting down to dinner with the family. What is it for you? For some, it’s sitting down and playing the piano. Dr. Bell and I were talking about that. Sometimes those of us who are professional musicians have to go from situation to situation and there’s hardly time to practice. But aren’t those times great when you can sit down and see what beautiful music can be made on the organ or the piano? What is the best time of day for you? Hold that in your mind for a just a second.

 

I’m going to ask you, my friend, to take a moment to share that with someone. [Here, Pastor Tony asks the congregation to get together in groups of two and share with each other.] I know for me one of the best parts of the day is coming home, sometimes late at night, pulling into the driveway, seeing the light go on, and being able to say, “Thank you, God, for bringing me safely home.” I walk in and the house welcomes me.

 

I was reminded by one of you of the blessedness of sleep. Yes, the pillow is a sacred spot, absolutely. Could a few of you share your best time of day?

 

-         Sharing after dinner and listening to the kids.

-         Greeting my kindergartners.

-         Waking up and realizing that I’m still alive.

-         When I speak with at least one of my grown children a day.

 

My hope is that each of you has a moment that you can call the best moment of the day. But I’ve got more good news for you. In addition to that best moment of the day, there is another moment that can be the best moment of the day for you. And that, my friends, is the moment of prayer. My prayer for you is that your time with God would be one of the most joyful, ecstatic, looking-forward-to-it moments.

 

What is our prayer time like now? If we’re honest about it, it’s catch as catch can. It’s like practicing for some of our performances – on an as-needed basis. There’s nothing wrong with that. God wants us to pray as we need to. “Oh Lord, help me.” How many of our prayers begin that way? “Lord, help me to get through this.” “Lord, help me to accomplish this.” Lord, help me that this doesn’t go wrong.” “Lord, let this go well.”

 

If our prayers are always prayers of desperation, though, we won’t have any prayers of inspiration. So, my request of you is that you set aside some time this week, maybe when you’re first waking up – that’s a favorite time for me – or when you’re going to sleep, or when you’re driving in the car. Set aside some time to enjoy the presence of God. Let it be one of the best times of the day for you.

 

In the psalm we heard this morning, the psalmist has it right. When the psalmist engages in prayer, David says,

1The Lord is my light and my salvation;
            whom shall I fear?
            The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
            of whom shall I be afraid?

 

It’s an exuberant moment. If you pray that prayer, if you feel that exuberance from the Lord, that can be one of the best times of the day. David goes on to say,

 

5The Lord will hide me in his shelter

in the day of trouble;

will conceal me under the cover of his tent

and will set me high upon a rock.

And now my head will be lifted up.

…I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

 

That’s a happy moment; that’s a good moment. Where did we ever get the idea that prayers have to be guilt-ridden or always sorry or hard, or done out of obligation or duty? Let your prayer time be the best time of the day. Let God’s time be best. I believe deeply in my heart that this also pleases God, that God wants us to be in communication with Him.

 

God is so subtle, and God is so non-invasive. But there is a draw; something draws us to Him. And if you decide to let your prayer time be a wondrous, joyful, restful, sweet time of your day, I think you will be able to experience God in a whole new way. Talk to Him. Tell Him of your thanksgiving.

 

Those of us who have the privilege of praying with children know that children’s prayers are often filled with prayers of thanksgiving. I know a little boy who always begins his prayers with “Thank you, God, for this wonderful, wonderful day.” And then he goes through the day and talks about what was wonderful about it. How about us? Do we do that?  Can we pause long enough to say, “Thank you, God, for this wonderful, wonderful day and all the blessings that have been mine?” And do indeed listen for God’s response, because our gracious, subtle God wants to tell you things. He wants to remind us of what powerful creatures we are, filled with potential, filled with opportunities for happiness, filled with opportunities to give happiness to others. We can forget that in the rush and tumble of our day, can’t we?

 

Oh, dear friends, my prayer for you is this: that you would be open to the idea of looking forward to your time of prayer, that you would let God’s time be best, and that you would let prayer be one of the best times of your day.

 

In the gospel this morning we hear about Thomas being away from the group when Jesus appeared to them. Thomas was sad and broken-hearted. And then Jesus did appear to him and said, “Thomas, come here. You wanted to put your finger into the nail marks. Go ahead. You wanted to put your hand into my side. Go ahead. Stop disbelieving. Believe.”

 

Thomas simply said, “My Lord and my God.”

 

“Oh, Thomas,” said Jesus. “You believe because you’ve seen. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believed.” Guess who that is? You and me. Jesus promised great happiness to those even who have not seen the risen Christ who commune with Him spiritually. May it be so for you. Let’s make a commitment this week to pray and let it be a time of joy, like a walk in a beautiful garden with the Lord. Let God’s time be best. Let prayer be your sweet retreat, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.

 

© Anthony J. Godlefski