Every Day Is a New Beginning
Sis Dakan, longtime saint of Phinney, died in early August. Before breathing her last Sis said, “Every day is a new beginning.” Sis’ s last words are now permanently imprinted on my heart and mind. While none of us can explain what happens after death, we trust that God will make of it a new beginning. The funeral preface for Holy Communion in the Book of Common Prayer says it this way: “For your faithful people, Lord, life has changed, not ended…”
Maybe Sis’s last words can function as a kind of mantra for living as well as dying. Martin Luther advised we begin each day by making the sign of the cross to remember our baptism. By such a gesture we embrace each day as a new beginning. A daily ritual like making the sign of the cross isn’t all that different from commending our beloved dead to God’s eternal care. Both are gestures of surrender and trust. For Christians, new beginnings aren’t declarations of “getting it right” or resolutions to try harder. Beginning anew is rather a gesture of prayer, trusting God to do a new thing. And God has an uncanny knack for bringing newness through the forgiveness of sins, the healing of relationships, and renewing love.
One of the things I’ve noted about the journey of grief, be it grieving our beloved dead or grieving loss in our relationships, is that God, who weeps with us, also works to bring life from death, especially when enemies becomes friends, the estranged are reconciled, and when we give up control. Life changes, it doesn’t end.
Sis’s mantra might serve us well as we launch into autumn and the beginning of a new program year. It’s back-to-school time, and it’s that time of the year when a host of parish activities reemerge – BFJ, the WAY, Sunday school, circles, choirs and much more. In many instances, God’s work will be cloaked in new wineskins: new staff members, a new vicar, and a few new approaches to forming disciples young and old. Yet, even with the “tried and true,” God always seems to be up to something new and life-giving and life-changing.
Consider making this something of a daily practice – make the sign of the cross on your forehead, chest and shoulders. Remember you belong to God who, through the gift of baptism has set you apart to love your neighbor. Breathe in deeply the gift of prayer and say something like “Every day is a new beginning.”