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In the Night

Jan 14, 2018 - Rev. Victoria Robb Powers

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In our biblical tradition, God often appears to people in the night – in a lonely wakefulness that we have all experienced at one time or another. A sleepless night is often when things come to us – ideas and inspirations as well as worries and nagging obligations. Jacob, Solomon, the Magi, and Samuel all heard a beckoning from God in the darkness of night. Maybe we can learn from the story of Samuel this week, and take advantage of a wakeful night by responding, “Here I am.”

The practice of Sabbath itself is an attempt to hear God through a sort of darkness and death – we give up our productivity for one day each week, which can seem worse than death in our fast-paced culture. By choosing to rest one day in seven, we attempt to allow God’s presence in our lives in new ways.

In this story of Samuel’s calling from God, everyone was experiencing the darkness of night. Samuel was literally awakened in the night. Eli was living in the evening of old age. Israel herself was in the twilight of the period of judges. For everyone, there was anxiety, depression, illness, and suffering in this dark night. However, sometimes only these difficult nights make God’s voice audible when we run out of words and seem to have lost control.

Often God’s speech is more frightening than God’s silence, but we have the confidence that the God who speaks to us through the midst of difficulties is the same God who knew us and called us beloved before we were born (see Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18). Our world often looks dark, and many of us are living in long periods of spiritual night, but God is calling with love and hope. Will we listen? Will we respond?

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