One Day or Day One?
a sermon by Rev. J. Christy Ramsey
Preached at South Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church on January 3, 2016
Based on Genesis 1:1-5
You don’t have to raise your hand or anything. These are kind of rhetorical questions. Have you ever been in a situation where everyone was laughing at you? Have you ever been in one of those places? Have you ever been in a place where everyone was laughing at you, and you didn’t know why? I think that’s even worse. Why is everybody laughing? What have I done wrong?
This happened to a Hebrew student that my friend Donna has in her sermon, and I’m stealing this story right straight from her. And I told her I would soon as I heard it. She said that the Hebrew class was translating Genesis. It’s a great thing to do when you’re in Hebrew class, translate Genesis. One, it’s useful. Two, you’ve got the answers right there. And this poor guy’s reading through, and he – and he gets to Verse 5. Verse 5, which we have a good translation, talk about the first day, evening, morning for the first day. In Hebrew, the word is “yom echad”, “yom”, “day”, and “echad” “one”.
And that’s how you – that’s when we talk in English, you know, we – order is very important in English. We go one word, and it makes a difference where things are in sentence – subject, verb, object. And it’s one of the great inventions of English. But other languages, they don’t have that. They go by the different forms of the word, and what the word looks like, and the endings, and the accents, all these change whether it’s a subject, an object, a verb.
This Hebrew student had – really hadn’t got into his head yet. And so he was saying “[ya heshad]” one day. And the professor went, “How would you translate ‘yom echad’?” And everybody else was going holding their breath. He says, “One, one day.” And he knew that was right. One day. “What, that is incorrect. Class, how do we translate ‘yom echad’?” And the whole class yells out, “Day one.” There’s a huge difference in English, whether you say “one day” or “day one.”
And Genesis, day one. Did you know the books in the Bible are often named by the first word there? They weren’t really that creative. They would just be terrible at getting clicks on the Internet. Could not write a headline. Just take the first word, put it up there on top, that’s what it was. The first word in Genesis is that is “b’reishit,” beginning, beginnings. Beginning God, first two words. Day one.
Did you see all that was chaos? Did you see there was stuff there before Genesis? It’s not like Big Bang out of nothing. It was something was there. There was – there was, like, a murky kind of watery kind of mix-up mess mash of a chaos kind of thing. And it was – it was a – and then God came, and God said “Let there be light.” And the light was separated from darkness. The all from all the greatness came the light and the dark, and there was day, there was morning, and there was evening. There was evening, and there’s morning, day one. From a murky, yucky, messy mess to day and night, light and dark. The beginning.
Any of you been teenagers? You know, if you ask teenagers, they swear they’re the first teenagers that ever existed, and no one has ever felt this way in the history of the Earth. And their feelings are unique and powerful and strong. I know you know this. I’ve had some. I’ve been one. I tell you, I had a particularly challenging one. Turned out great. Whew, we made it through.
One day was particularly difficult. It was about 9:00 a.m. It was early. It was 8:39. It wasn’t halfway through the morning. And she was back there just, you know how – you know how you cry talk? Do you know how to cry talk? You know how they do that is that you don’t talk, and you don’t cry, but you kind of put them together, and you kind of go “It’s the worst day ever.” You know, I’m crying, but I have something to say, but I want you to know I’m crying. And so she was inconsolable because, again, teenagers, the only feeling, first one discovered feelings, you’re no – you have no idea what it’s like to be me. Oh. So going on and on.
And I finally said to her, I finally got a say, I said, “Rachel, Rachel, when does a day start?” “Wha-what?” I go, “When does a day start? When does the day start? Is it midnight, you know, when the clock changes, and counter changes midnight? Is that it? Or is it – is it dawn? Is it the dawn of a new day? Is that it? Is it when you get up, which is not dawn? Is it, you know, in the Bible they start the day at sundown. So, you know, the seventh day is Friday night because that’s the beginning of Saturday. They start it at sundown. So, you know, when does the day start?”
And I told her, “You know, Rachel, the day starts whenever you want it to. And I’m telling you right now, right now, right here, we’re starting a new day. That old day that was ruined and awful and irredeemable and the worst day ever, that’s over. Gone. You and me, we’re starting a new day right now, and it’s going to be a good one. It’s going to be good because it can’t be worse than yesterday. That was the worst day ever. So we’re starting a new one, got to be better than yesterday.” [Indiscernible] thank Lord that worked for her. And she [sniffles], “Okay. Okay, Dad. New day today.” She went out and took it on. Difference between day one and one day.
Did you see all the news reports about how many killings there were? “Oh, Christy, it’s Christmas. Don’t. The decorations are still up, and you’re going to talk about mass killing.” I have a cute story at the end, so just hold on. Did you see all the killings in 2015, the more than one a day? Remember when those were surprising? Remember when they were unique? Remember when we heard, “Uh, now is not the time for talking about violence. Now is not the time for….” And it turned out it was never the time because we keep having those violence. We keep having the killings. And then we moved into our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. You know, one day, some day, one day, not today, one day we’ll get around to doing something about the violence. One day. Not today. One day.
Now, the numbers, you – have you seen what they’ve done to the numbers, too. It’s over 330 shootings. But, you know, shootings, shootings, ah, shootings, that’ll just spoil your day. Maybe we should only count murders. Some people only count murders. And you know you really can’t count the perpetrator, you know, the shooter. I mean, if they die, you know, it doesn’t really count to God; does it? Is every life sacred to God? No, we’ll throw that out.
And then they take – they take it even further down. And they say, well, what if it’s gang violence? You know? Gang violence, you’ve got to expect that. And then they go, what about, you know, domestic violence? You know, you’re going to have that stuff. Happens, you know. What about, oh, you know, robberies and [doe de do]. They take it on down, take it on [indiscernible] down. And one, the list got down to one, one. Now, because certain a number of people have [indiscernible] they could actually die, [doe te to]. Ah, one day we’ll do something about that. Just the way things are. Just life in America. We have violence everywhere. We have violence in everything.
Football, so American. You know? Committee meetings interrupted by violence. Thank you for the giggle. Can you believe in football they’re saying, “How much brain damage is okay?” What? Well, we’re going [well] helmets because it hurts our brains. How about not doing stuff that hurts your brains? How about that? No. It’s all right. Well, someday we’ll get around to stopping the violence in our society. Some day. Not today. Today is not the day. Who’s God? God is beginnings. God is not one day, but day one.
Have you heard about the killings of the Christians? Have you heard about that? Have you heard about that? There’s tension between Muslims and Christians? Have you heard about that? Do we just accept that as just okay, that’s the way it is? They’ve got their scriptures; we’ve got our scriptures. We’re going to fight, going to kill. That’s just the way things are. We just got to accept the world like that, and we got to protect ourselves. Have you heard about it?
Have you heard about what happened in Egypt? This was a few years ago. But there was an incident. There was violence. There was trouble. And the Christians there, they’re Coptic Christians. They go way back. Way back. All the way back to Jesus. They’re Coptic Christians. They even have a different calendar than we do. That’s how far back they go. And there was – there was a problem with that about conversions and violence and all that. And the Muslim majority in Egypt said no, this stops now. And they are – they [indiscernible] we all live together, or we all die together. We are together in Egypt. We are one.
And the Christians had their Christmas Eve service that year. And around the little tiny church with a little bit about Christians were hundreds, were thousands of Muslims. They stood outside the church, and they said, “We are your human shield. If anybody is going to do violence to you, they’re going to go through us first. This will not stand. This is not who we are. We do not solve our differences with violence. We are with you Christians.” And so the celebration of God coming in body to Earth was greeted by the protection of the body of Muslims. Day one.
And I’m not saying you begin some, it’s all peaches and rainbows and unicorns and ice cream and this showering confetti throwing. There’s problems. We know that from Genesis. Did the problems end with Genesis? No, we can really make an argument things all began with Genesis, and problems have come on since. But it’s a beginning. It’s a start. And God is the God of beginnings and of starts and of day ones.
New Year’s resolutions. How you guys do with those? Yeah, oh, that good? This one’s already – you already have said your opinion, [indiscernible]. And we have not talked earlier. We rarely talk. You can – you can tell by the service.
How you doing with the resolutions? What do you do? Do you guys make resolutions? A rhetorical question, but you can nod and shake [indiscernible]. A little bit? My most successful New Year’s resolution is that one year I resolved to wait. And so every time I was like at the post office or the airport or on hold with the [indiscernible], I’d go, I’d get [indiscernible]. Oh, wait a minute, that was my resolution. I’m doing pretty well. I got my resolution going. All right. I don’t know if that’s a good way to do it. [Indiscernible].
I was looking up resolutions, and I found some quotes around the idea of that some people don’t make resolutions, not because they’ll break them, which is one way to go, but they don’t make New Year’s resolutions because they believe that every day is a good day to resolve to do good and to be better. Every day is a good day to start a New Year’s resolution. Every day is a good day to resolve to do good and to be better. When does the New Year start? It can start today. And it can start again tomorrow, if you need it.
Ah, geez. Killings on Christmas, the sanctuary [indiscernible]. What are you going to do? I’m going down, back down the hill this afternoon. You guys [indiscernible] you guys can’t catch me. Ha.
I want to tell you about Bob and Sharon. And I have permission to talk about my daughter, and I have permission to talk about Bob and Sharon. So, now, Bob was a good-looking guy. He was ever better looking 41 years ago. And he was there working at a gas station, back when they had gas stations with people working there. Some of you remember that. Well, back in the day when – when they – when they [gain] that, I think it – I think it was a Wednesday, the day that we keep talking.
But Bob, Bob came out, and Bob, Bob was a single guy. And he saw Sharon, Sharon. Now, Sharon had a little boy. I don’t know the situation there. Didn’t ask. Didn’t want to know. He’s telling the story. Go, Bob. Bob was saying, you know, I caught my eye. She was pretty cute. She had a little boy. I know she lived around the neighborhood. We got to talking, you know. And I said, boy, that – I really kind of like her, you know. So he didn’t know who she is.
So she goes, he goes home, and he – and her – his sister’s there with her friend. And he goes, boy, you know, a Sharon came into the station, I don’t know her last name. She’s got, you know, she’s a blonde, she’s Italian, she’s got a little – got a little boy, and she lives around here. And her sister’s friend said, “Sharon, with the little boy, single, lives here, I know who that is. I know her. Would you like to meet her? Would you – I could set you up. Ooh, ooh, I could set you up with a date. I could do that.” And then Bob said, “Well, yeah, I’d, uh, yeah, I think I’d like that, yeah. Yeah, yeah.” “All right. Well, oh, don’t worry about it. I’ll set it up.”
And so it was set up. Friday night, you know, Bob’s all slicked up, you know. He’s got his car all clean. He’s coming on up. And he goes up, and he goes, yeah, this is Sharon. All right, comes up, bup ba da ba da. Yeah, knock on the door, the door opens to a woman he’s never seen before. It was the wrong Sharon. There was two blond Sharons with a child that lived in a block apart. They had the same house number, but a block off. He did not know this at the time. He didn’t know what to do, but he’s a good guy. Bob is a really good guy.
And he goes, well. He braced himself and went out on a date. It was, they both agree, this details, they do go back and forth, but they both agree, worst date ever. It was horrendous. In fact, it wasn’t so much a bad day as a good hostage situation, that kind of the scale. They were both hostage to the date. And Bob swears that Sharon never let go of the door handle. It was like it was an ejection seat, an escape hatch. She was ready to pull and go anytime. The date hostage situation was over, resolved, as if you will, and she pulled that [right] and bolted for the door. Well, you know, some days you win, some days you lose, you know.
About a week later, Sharon says she forgot where Bob worked. Maybe. She swears this. She pulls in. Bob sees her. What is he going to do? Because remember back there they actually went out, for you younger people, back then people actually went out and helped people with the gas, actually put the gas in the car. I know, amazing. But he’d go – he had to go out there. So he goes out there.
And here’s something about Bob. Bob says, you know, “Nothing could be that bad that we couldn’t – we cannot be that bad together. Let’s go out again.” And like my daughter, you’ve already had the worst date, so this has got to be better. And it wasn’t a blind date because they knew each other. And it wasn’t a surprise date, which is worse than a blind date, the surprise date. And they had a great time. They had a wonderful time. And they met after – then they got to know each other. They met after work for coffee. They were inseparable. They got engaged. They got married. They had children. They have 41 years of life together.
Great love story. One day, I had a bad date. But I decided that, instead, I’ll have day one of a love of my life. Today is one day. But it can be day one. Amen.