Beloved Church Family,
What a long, strange trip the last 6 months have been for us all, and for the rest of the world! When anyone asks me how I am coping with the Pandemic, my reply is basically the same as for any major problems I have faced in my long life: one day at a time. Plus my faith as a Christian, framed and anchored in John Wesley’s Methodist sturdiness.
So I’m all set, right? Just one spiritual (and practical) step after another. Well, insert laughter here. For all my good or at least passable days of coping, adapting, planning, and praying, there are some days that feel very dark.
Then what? Of late, I find myself conjuring up what I call “The Night Shift”. Have you ever worked the night shift? At a job, studying for an exam, up with a sick child, or wrestling with Pandemic insomnia? I know you have. I may be a retired college professor, but I vividly recall my early teaching years when, low professor on the academic totem pole, I drew the night classes. They were always more stressful, especially at 10 p.m. in the urban East Bay, making my way home alone. But somehow, I always made it home.
The Night Shift turns up throughout the Gospels. Remember Nicodemus’ stealthy night time visit to Jesus? Jesus and the disciples in a sudden storm on the Sea of Galilee?
Most often when I think “Night Shift” and of the terrors it can hold, I see those lowly shepherds huddled with their sheep out in the cold, dark night of rural “nowhere” when the Angel appears to tell them the Good News. And Mary Magdalene, with her sister disciples, who kept frightened and dangerous watch at the foot of the Cross those dark, dark days after the Crucifixion.
And I think of a hymn that always makes me cry: Here I Am, Lord” (#593.) Remember the refrain?“Here I am Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me, I will hold your people in my heart.”
Everyone has to work the night shift sometime. But we will see the dawn, we will make it home, and we will be together again.