Rain in the Nightwatch
“Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord.” – Psalm 134
I once belonged to a congregation in which a gifted pastor led a handful of people in a dying urban church to become more than 500 members. After her departure, interim adjustments, and the typical lull came another gifted young pastor, and now the congregation is growing again. A common ingredient? Servants of God who withstand the rainy nightwatch.
UCC saint, Charlie Cobb, said, “The UCC does the right thing . . . when pushed.” Pushy pastors, leaders, teachers, members AND resisting pastors, leaders, and members struggling with this messy “God thing” move both the church and the world forward, wrestling with often ambiguous hunches toward faint whiffs of a hidden God of unseen, hope-filled silences.
Mahalia Jackson sings about rain ending for Noah’s Ark, “When it looked like the sun, wasn’t gonna shine any more, “God put a rainbow in the sky!” Sometimes we wonder, “Is there a rainbow somewhere?”
Sometimes in relationships, organizations, a call, or even with God we can feel mired in darkness. But love, like the dawn, is not a feeling—it’s an eternal promise: God’s promise to love us no matter what; our promise to love God with all our hearts souls, minds and might; a community’s aim and actions to love one another the way God loves us. Not a mere destination, such love is often a messy journey.
So leap headlong off your cliff of doubt and despair–whatever it is . . . . God promises wings to sunshine, rainbows, and courage for future dark nights.
Gracious God, Help us to love and trust you through the darkness and over the rainbow. Thank you! Amen.
Ron Buford is the former coordinator of the UCC’s God is still speaking campaign and appears in the DVD-based progressive theology series, Living the Questions 2.0.