One night at bedtime, my youngest child surprised me by asking God to bless the people who will be awake while he sleeps. His firefighter uncle, putting in a 24-hour shift. The bakers, making fresh bread for the morning. The police, charged with keeping everyone safe.
I asked if he could add any more. He does. People driving trucks and flying planes. Sad people. People without homes. Animals, like the ones in his glow-in-the-dark book about nocturnal mammals and the moon.
After a while, his brother and I chimed in. We pray for neighbors we know, for those we don’t, and especially for those whom we imagine inhabit uncomfortable places—those not tucked into fire engine bedsheets or surrounded by teddy bears.
Peace comes, calm and bright as the moon behind the window curtain.
Sometimes the days are blurry. Sometimes we come to see Jesus at night. Much like Nicodemus, we strain our eyes at a glimpse of divinity, stuck on small details, wondering at the big picture.
Who is this God who comes not to condemn the world, but to love it? Where in our daily lives can we find this life-giving water, this renewing Spirit that Jesus speaks of to both Nicodemus (John 3) and the woman at the well (John 4)?What would it mean for each of us to be made all anew? Click To Tweet
What would it mean for each of us to be made “all anew”—the words of the Women of the ELCA triennial theme? We find ourselves in a unique moment of renewal this year during the celebration of 500 years of Reformation.
When we read Scripture, can we look beyond those with whom we identify? Can we empathize with characters we don’t always notice, perhaps because we think they don’t deserve it or because it is too dark or we are too tired or perhaps because their work goes on while we are sleeping?
After all, God sees things differently than you or I. God offers grace (freely giving what we haven’t earned) and mercy (withholding the punishment we deserve). God’s way of renewal turns the way of the world upside down.
Elizabeth Hunter is editor of Gather magazine. This article first ran as an editor’s column in the June 2017 issue of Gather.