DIVINE MOUNTAIN MOMENTS & HORRIBLE TERRIBLE BAD DAYS.
Do any of you know the children's book called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Or maybe some of you have watched the Disney movie version of the book with Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner.
“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” was published in 1972 and has been a favorite award-winning children's book ever since. It is a wonderful tale about a little boy for whom nothing goes right, and it opens like this:
“I went to sleep with gum I my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning, I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink, while the water was running, and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day… I think I’ll move to Australia.
In the car Mom let Becky have a seat by the window. Andrey and Elliott got seats by the window, too. I said, I was being smashed. I said, if I didn’t get a seat by the window, I’m going to be carsick and throw up! No one ever answered. I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!”
Even if you have never read the book and watched the funny movie, I am sure you all know the feeling of having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Just like the little boy Alexander, we too have days like his…. They just start wrong and end wrong: they are no good very bad days from beginning to end.
At school Alexander's day doesn’t improve. His teacher doesn’t like his drawings and criticizes him for singing too loud and leaving out 16 at counting time.
His best friend Paul deserts him for his third best friend and there is no dessert in his lunch bag.
The dentist tells him he has a cavity, and the elevator closes on his foot.
At home they have lima beans for dinner, which he hates. And at bath time the water is too hot, and he gets soap in his eyes.
Finally, in bed, his night light burns out, he bites his tongue, and the cat chooses to sleep somewhere else.
Several times during this horrible day, Alexander repeats: It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I think I’ll move to Australia. (In the Australian and New Zealand version he wants to move to Timbuktu!)
But at the end Alexander discovers he’s not alone when his dad and mom and family live through their own terrible days too. And at the end he concludes: “It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia!”
That is life isn’t it? Life does not stand still. There isn’t a once-for-all-rosy-happy experience that lasts all days of our lives. Winston Churchill once said: “Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts.”
Courage to keep on trying. To make a new effort even if you’re tired, disappointed and falling down.
There are going to be good and bad days. Sometimes we are going to fall on our respective faces, and the gum will get stuck in our hair.
But these failures don’t have to be the endings. They can be an avenue to try again, to experience others options or even feel God’s grace shining on you. And we can rest assure that there are also horrible, terrible, bad days in Australia or Timbuktu or Denmark too.
Today’s Gospel is about a divine shining blessed day. It is indeed about a wonderful, beautiful, so good very good day. It is about a beautiful breathtaking blessed day at the mountain top, far far away from the busy human world on the plain of not so good days or even bad very bad days.
Today it is the last day in the church season of Epiphany. We have heard about many different epiphanies during the last weeks. The star led the wise men to Bethlehem, a dove descended from the sky at the baptism of Jesus, and last Sunday we heard about an epiphany about Christian life that is all about love. And finally to end this season, we climb the mountain today together with Jesus and Peter, John and James to experience one of these rare blessed breathtaking mountain top experiences of pure joy, light and peace. And like Peter, John, and James, we would like to stay… we would like to live forever in the moment of light, divinity and blessing.
But there is a time for everything. And we know that we need to climb down the mountain top again, leave this beautiful peaceful church after service, close the bulletin and the bible--and go down and out and into ordinary human days again that gives us horrible terrible no good days but also beautiful blessed so good days.
And this is where we need to be. This is where our lives are. This is where we are called to be and live and love.
And these mountain top experiences, these epiphanies, these revelations and breathtakingly divine moments that God grants us and God gives us to keep faith, hope and love, - these mountain top experiences we keep close to our hearts and alive in our hope.
The divine invisible voice said to Peter, John and James: “This is my Son, my chosen: listen to him!” The same voice repeats to us seated here on a February day 2016: “This is my son, my chosen: listen to him!”
So we listen. So we come to church. So we share the good news and the blessed promise. So we listen and so we find strength and purpose to go down the mountain and out of the church again – and live and love and believe and hope.
And thus we sing in the beautiful Hymn and ask that Jesus will shine on us even on--and especially on--these terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days--to always grant us hope, faith and courage:
Lord, the light of your love is shining,
In the midst of the darkness, shining;
Jesus, light of the world, shine upon us;
Set us free by the truth you now bring us,
Shine on me, shine on me.