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Save the Day

What’s it gonna take to save the day
What you gonna need to feel okay
If you close your eyes what would you pray
What’s it gonna take to save the day

What a great set of questions for Lent.

Thank you Kate Campbell for this song and so many others. (Here’s a video performance.)

Our days are in need of saving. And so are we. I’ve been on a long and winding road to change my days and my ways. It’s not just a matter of feeling okay. Although I would not object to that. I do feel okay pretty often, except when I don’t.  What I’m talking about is a matter much deeper.

To really change our ways – to experience something worthy of the name transformation, something that lasts beyond wishful thinking or personal ‘to do’ lists, a genuine change in character – it takes something like grace, like prayer, like a long sojourn in a foreign land. It is a long time coming. It is hard to sustain the work and the letting go (it seems to take both).

This longing for change finds its way in to our everyday lives – in a pop song, a graduate degree, a can of soup, a vacation house, a good chair. Beneath all these longings and hopes for changing the day is the deeper hope to be founded, to be saved, to feel profoundly okay.

And it is this deeper longing into which the season of Lent must draw us. Every practice we take up, every pleasure we give up, every prayer we pray, the purpose is not to check it from our list or feel okay about ourselves in a perfunctory way. It is a matter of trying to cooperate with divine grace, to put ourselves in the path of mercy, to walk the way that Jesus walked, to find ourselves in a living parable.

On Monday I found myself for a moment living in a parable. I was invited to a meeting just a few days earlier, but I didn’t have much else in the way of detail other than the time and the campus, which is a conglomeration of buildings. It took some sleuthing, and my plan late on Sunday evening to find the meeting particulars online fell through completely. There was nothing to be found.

So I left early, got the last visible parking place on the seventh level, and then I began to wander the campus, asking no less than four people for directions. After a series of disorientations I found the room and the guest of honor who had invited me. As the minutes ticked by and the crowd gathered I soon found myself surrounded by new and familiar faces, handshakes, hugs and words of welcome.

Then I was pressed into staying for a meal. When I returned from washing my hands, those gathered were just about to pray. When I lifted my head I found myself at the start of the serving line. There was no time to demure, I had simply to accept the welcome and then take my place first in line. The food was bountiful. The conversation was interesting. I sat with a guest of honor. We shared the table with new and old friends.

I could only conclude one thing: grace had saved the day.

It might sound small, even trivial. And yet that is the way parables work as far as I can tell. The small things are what make the difference. If I could learn to trust that maybe . . . well, maybe that is the task of Lent.

Speaking of “Saving the Day” – if you are in the Twin Cities, I hope you will consider coming to hear Kate sing on Sunday, March 11, 7:00 p.m. at University Baptist Church. I’ve heard her many times, and she is yet to disappoint. Do come, if you can!