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It Takes All Night

It Takes All Night

Monday, April 28, 2014 – 2 Easter, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 1, 2, 3 (morning) // 4, 7 (evening)

Exodus 14:21-31

1 Peter 1:1-12

John 14:(1-7)8-17

In the process of writing these so-called Morning Reflections, I’ve learned that I can do a surprising amount of work in my sleep. Of course, I’m probably not the one doing the work. I try to do my Scripture readings the night before I write, so that the Word has the opportunity to really sink in. My consciousness takes a break, and some configuration of dreams and brain waves opens me to what the Spirit has to say.

Today’s first reading shows us that God does indeed work on our behalf all night. We see God at work, blazing trails and opening the way of liberation while most of the world sleeps. I usually picture the parting of the Red Sea taking place almost instantly, but our passage today says something very different: “The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night.”

The wind works slowly but persistently on the deep waters that stand between the Israelites and the distant shore to which God is leading them. Gradually, the waters start to peel apart; incrementally, the waters form walls on either side of the sea; bit by bit, the dry land begins to appear. The process takes all night.

This story lends support to the common advice that when it comes to a big dilemma or decision, we should sleep on it. I’m reminded of Psalm 127:2, which tells us that “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.” Sleep itself is a gift and also an opportunity to let God take over the watching and the working that our lives depend on.

I’m also reminded of the Jewish and Christian liturgical way of measuring days: a new day begins at sundown and starts with a night’s rest, not with attacking the day at dawn. We need to allow God to labor on our behalf, to clear our way, before we can walk forward into whatever this morning has in store.

It may not help much this morning to think of our day as already half over. If the day is half gone, then we are really behind! But our reading from Exodus reminds us to make time for God to work on our behalf, sinking into all of the mysterious layers of our being, peeling back the turmoil and confusion and slowly breathing out an unexpected way to freedom. Hopefully, our next chance to let God do this work for us isn’t far off.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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