Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

08/26/12 Sermon

Ephesians 5:15-21
 

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

 
 
A few nights ago I watched one of my favorite movies on TV. It was the 1993 movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. When the movie came out there wasn’t much fanfare with it.
 
 

A lot of people saw it as a stupid, tiresome movie. But today, nearly 20 years later, the movie has reached almost cult status in a really good way.

I read where this movie has been praised by many different faith traditions for its core spiritual symbolism and truths. 

For those who haven’t seen it or have forgotten it’s about a Pittsburg television weatherman, Phil Connors (played by Murray) who has an assignment to cover the groundhog Punxsutony Phil in Punxsutony, PA.
 

Connors is a rude, egotistical , self-obsessed person disliked by everybody.

Well after he and the crew cover the groundhog coming out and seeing its shadow, Connors goes to bed and when he wakes up the next day the radio clock goes off and he hears the radio playing the same Sonny and Cher song as the day before.
 
Eventually he realizes that it’s Groundhog Day all over again. What happened the day before never happened to anybody else but him.
 

So everybody else is doing the same thing they did before; same ordinary events, same lines, same script except for Phil Connors.

At first Connors is angry and frustrated. He hates being in this little, hick town that’s celebrating this “hick” event.
 
But then after a few days, Phil sees that what he does each day has no consequences to the next day because he will wake up and it will start all over agian.
 

So he robs a bank, indulges it gluttony, smokes, gets intoxicated and lives in promiscuity.

But after living this kind of day over and over again, he finds that doing all these things doesn’t satisfy him. He’s even more frustrated. So he becomes seriously depressed and decides to kidnap the groundhog Punxsutony Phil and he drives both of them off a cliff.
 
But of course when he wakes up the next day, he’s still alive.

So the next day he jumps off a building, next he electrocutes himself, then he jumps in front of an 18 wheeler.

But everyday he wakes up and it’s Groundhog Day all over again.
 
Finally one day, Phil was at a point of complete helplessness and something changed in him---
 

Phil decides he wants to learn how to play the piano. Then he takes up ice sculpting.

He also begins to live in a humble, selfless way. He goes around town saving a kid who fell from a tree, saves a man from choking, and does simple things like changing the tire on some older ladies’ car.

What happened was that Phil Connors was intentionally and mindfully making the most of the time that he had each day.
 
Instead of wasting the time he had been given he kept getting a do over until he finally got it right. And only then was he able to move on.

Now this movie reminded me of what Paul is talking about in our scripture today.

Paul says in the16th verse that we are to “make the most of every opportunity”.
 
In the Greek in which this was written, the phrase “making the most of every opportunity” is actually the phrase “redeem the time”.
 
Now the word time used here is not speaking to just hours and minutes on a clock.

The word time here is the word “kairos” which has more to do with how we spend the days of our lives. It’s about living time, or heart time that we have each and every day.

Paul’s emphasis here was about putting the focus on how Christians are to live.
 

You see in a similar way, we-----like Phil Connors, are living the same Groundhog day over and over again.

We too can feel like we’re waking up to the same day over and over again.

And many of us can feel like we’re Phil Connors. We are frustrated at where we are. We feel stuck in the ordinary and routine.

And many of us can be looking to find pleasure and satisfaction as Phil Connors did.
 
Paul speaks to this in verse 17 and 18 when he speaks about living in foolishness, drunk on things that won’t satisfy.
 

But there is another way we can live our lives...

Like Phil Connors the weatherman on Groundhog Day, we can choose to make the most of time.

We can change the script of our lives---we do have a choice.
 
But how???
 

Well Paul gives us instructions in these 7 verses today that show us how to make the most of time; to redeem the time we have been given.

So what are these instructions?

Well the first thing we see Paul talk about is the need to live each moment wisely.

Now to live life wisely in the Greek (blepo) means that you are perceptive and aware in a way that you see the big picture.
 
You live your life with a depth of understanding that’s more than just a shallow existence where we simply follow our whims or desires or only what we can see or touch.
 

Paul is speaking about an awareness of God with all of our senses that leads us to be intentional in how we live our life.

Now for Paul this intentional, deliberate way of living was to model the life of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.
 
In fact, Paul says in the 1st verse of this chapter that we’re to be imitators of God and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.
 

So to live wisely means we are intentional and deliberate in loving others and serving others as Christ did.

Now for many of us, our way of living can lack focus and purpose and direction. If you ask most people what their goal is for their life they would say they want to be happy.
 
And so they go about each day looking and searching for things to make themselves happy.
 

But chasing after happiness can lead us to live haphazard, blown about lives that leaves us disappointed and empty.  

There was a Wise old cat who was watching a kitten chasing its tail:
 
And the wise old cat said "Why are you chasing your tail?"
 
The kitten replies, "I have learned that the best thing for a cat is happiness, and happiness is in my tail. Therefore, I am chasing it, and when I catch it, I shall have happiness."
 
The Wise old cat responds, "I too have judged that happiness is in my tail. But I notice that whenever I chase it, it keeps running away from me.---- But when I go about my business of being a proper cat, it just seems to come after me wherever I go."
 

To live wisely is about a way of living that imitates Christ (that’s being the proper cat!). And as we do that we find that the time we speding chasing after happiness was a waste of time.

Happiness is right in front of us and already within us.
 
Phil Connors in Groundhog Day got it right when he began to live in a servant, Christ-like manner.

As he was focused on who he was, he found happiness in the fullness of the present moment.

When he finally got wise, he purposefully and intentionally spent each day looking for opportunities to serve.
 
His life had purpose and direction as he began to uncover opportunities to serve that had always been before him.
 

The difference was that he was now living wisely serving others and as a result the days were redeemed into precious moments full of life and joy and peace for him.

So ask yourself today: Am I focused on how I can serve others each day?
 
Is my day focused first and foremost on serving others or am I chasing my tail?
 

All around us are people who need a smile or a listening ear. Someone each day is in need of a helping hand.

To make the most of time we need to stop killing time by looking for ways to be like Christ each and every day.
 
Now along with living wisely Paul also says we make the most of our time when we learn to Let go of foolishness.

Like the cat chasing its tail many of us are failing to making the most of our time because we are squandering our lives going after foolishness.

Paul speaks about trying to find satisfaction in drunkeness and sexual pleasure. We might add to the list those individuals who foolishly chase after a fools gold in lottery tickets.
 

And while these are issues of character and moral behavior, Paul isn’t simply making a legalistic command to be good.

Intead he’s making the point that this foolishness prevents us from experiencing the life of making the most of time.

You see, when we continue to seek after foolish things, what we experience is dissatisfaction and discontentment.
 

When you don't win the lottery, or when you don't live on oceanfront property, or when we don't achieve the top position on the corporate ladder, or when we aren't beautiful in the way the world describes, or when we don't have the fairy tale relationship----- we can find ourselves discontented.

And even if by chance we are really lucky and do achieve these things, we’re only lucky because we realize that they don't satisfy.
 
Paul calls us to let go of the foolishness of this world so that we can be freed to get to the business of a life that fulfills; a life where we become more fully who God created us to be.  
 

In Groundhog Day, when Phil the weatherman let go of his foolishness he took up playing the piano and ice sculpting.

You know so many of us can be living foolishly wasting the time we’ve been given because we think we’re too old. Many of us find ourselves waiting on the bus to take us away from this life.
 
But as followers of Christ, we follow him into resurrection.

We are eternal creations who will wake up every day for all of eternity. So why not take up playing the violin, why not serve others at the food pantry, why not do something you always wanted to do?

When we make the most of time we let go of the foolishness of wasting time.  
 
So ask yourself today, where do I need to let go of something foolish? Where am I discontented and disappointed?
 

God wants us to experience great joy and fulfillment. And we do that when we make the most of the time we’ve been given.

Now along with living wisely and letting go of foolishness, we also make the most of time when we are in community with others......
 

Paul says in verse 18 that we are to be filled with the Spirit addressing one another in psalms and hymns, making melody together, being in thanksgiving together.

You see, only when we are with others will we find completion and fulfillment.
 

As a pastor I often hear of individuals who don’t want to be part of a church community because they say they are able to experience God when they’re out in nature alone.

I’d like to ask them--- what do you learn about the nature of God in your walk on the woods? Are you seeking to learn about Him or is it simply about yourself?

And I want to ask---- how do you learn to live your life while you're out walking in the woods?

It's been said that one can acquire everything in solitude except character. You see you can’t build character when you’re simply alone doing your own thing

Character is something that has to be shaped and sharpened in community with others.

In community we share our gifts with others; we express love and forgiveness and humility and kindness.  

Only when we are together in community do we find completion.  

I mean if you thnk about it, what use is there to experience anything if you can't share it with someone? What good is it to serve if there is no one to serve? How can we grow if we have no one to teach us or no one we can teach?

Phil Connors the weatherman in Groundhog Day ended up realizing that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with the “hick people” in the “hick town” of Punxsutony PA.

He saw them as a community where he could serve and be served, where he could love and be loved as he grew and continued living a life of making the most of time...........

In closing today, we’re being reminded that time is not something to be wasted.

We're not just waiting on the bus to take us to the next destination.

As eternal, resurrected beings, our days are eternal. In a way we are living the Groundhog Day over and over again.  

And one day we will wake up from our death and see that the life we’ve been living was not a throw away but rather a redeemed extension of the life we’ve been living all along.

So the question to us today is why aren’t we living the redeemed life we’ve been given now?  

Why have we been wasting time instead of making the most of time?

It’s not too late to begin.
Today if you haven’t started making the most of time that God has given you, go to Him and ask Him to help you.

Ask Him to make you wise, ask Him to help you let go of your foolishness and ask Him to help you find a community where you can live out your days on the journey into eternal life.

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen