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Stories

Let There Be Night

Posted by Lauren Wrightsman on

Lauren J. Wrightsman, Senior Pastor

Henry Beston is an American writer who wrote, The Outermost House (1928). In this collection of essays, Beston writes, 

“Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch
with many aspects of nature, and with none more
completely than with night… With lights and ever
more lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night
back to the forests and the trees.”

When I think about night, the beauty of night, my mind is pulled back to summer evenings along the shorelines of countless lakes of the BWCA and Quebec where I have pondered the night sky.. I remember looking up into the darkness, not afraid of the dark, but finding within its mystery a sense of peace, a sense of hope. It was there, in the darkness of the night that I discovered, in a multitude of ways, the love of our creator and the joy of God’s creation. 

Our current age, however, is hostile to night. We shove it back with our lights, drenching our lives with artificial light that dispels the glory of the darkness.

We must remember, however, that much of God’s work happens in the night:

  • It is night when, in Psalm 23, God walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death
  • It is night when the disciples sat with Christ at Gethsemane. 
  • It is night when Paul and Silas, jailed in Philippi, sang hymns and an earthquake shook the prison loose. 
  • It is night when the angel of death passed over the land of Egypt. 
  • It is night when Ruth went to Boaz.
  • It is night when the Lord spoke to Mary and Joseph.
  • It is night when the world first heard the sound of their savior’s cry.
  • It is night when the shepherds heard the angelic chorus as they watched their flocks by night. 

Maybe I have a new look on the night, simply because there are many nights I find I cannot sleep. I wake, restless and keenly aware that most of the world around me still sleeps. 

I have recently learned that my mid-night awakenings replicate an ancient pattern. According to historian A. Roger Ekrich, before the advent of electricity, northern dwellers tended to sleep in two shifts separated by an hour or more of spontaneous wakefulness. The first “sleep” was called “dead sleep” (probably because of the exhaustion of labors during the day). The second “sleep” was called “morning sleep” because one’s mind and dreams were turned to the needs of the future day. In the middle, however, was this awakening into the night; which was referred to as a “nightly resurrection.” In the words of author John Daniel, “Freed from daylight distractions, refreshed by a few hours’ slumber, a man or woman could lie abed in a condition of easeful contemplation akin to meditation.” (In Praise of Darkness, Daniel).

There is, in each twenty-four hour cycle, an opportunity for “nightly resurrection.”

Join us this Advent season as we explore the night together. Not as a place of uncertainty, fear, or worry, but as a place that offers us the gifts of God’s hope, peace, joy and love. For it is in the darkness, in the night, that we find ourselves reawakened to the mysteries of a God who is always creating. Always with us and omnipresent in our waking and our sleeping. May we enter into the night with the promise of a resurrection.

Let There Be Night! 

God’s blessings to you and yours during this Advent season.

 

Lauren J. Wrightsman

Senior Pastor