Saturday, April 11, 2009

Darkest Saturday

To All Those in Peril, All Those in Darkness, and All Who are Hopeless:

Scary nightIn times long ago, before we tried to insulate ourselves from the night with our electric lights and sound-proof homes, the nighttime was a scary place. The night held untold dangers, isolated one person from another, and was generally thought of as the time when evil most readily abounded. In short, it was the time when men had the least control over their surroundings, and had to trust most heavily in God to keep them safe--to sustain them.

Child prayingI'm no Luddite, but I sometimes get afraid of the night. Not because I'm scared of the dark, but because I like to remind myself how truly dependent I am on God to keep me and sustain me. It's like the old child's prayer--
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
That yearning to rely on God for preservation of my life is probably why my favorite part of the Book of Common Prayer is the Evening Prayer, or Vespers as the Roman Catholics call it. It's essentially the same thought in more developed prose. A moment in time as the sun begins to fade, and--lit only by candles if tradition has its way--we remember God's Providence and sustenance as the night falls, asking to be protected til the morning.
Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord;
and by thy great mercy defend us
from all perils and dangers of this night;
for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

As I read that prayer last night, I imagined this day some 2000 years ago:

The despair of the empty cross For the disciples, scattered and afraid: The cross was empty, but there was no hope. Christ was dead and in a tomb. It was only a matter of time til they came for the rest of them. How could these men find faith in the midst of such despair? Where did they turn now that their Lord was gone? Where does their faith come from in the blackest night?

And for Christ, I cannot begin to imagine his thoughts on Friday as the black clouds blotted out the sun and the skies grew dark. Death drew nigh. Who, in all the universe, could Christ cry out to, asking for protection and sustenance as all hope fled? "Abba, Daddy! Why have you forsaken me!?" is the only prayer that could be offered.

But as I reflect on these things, I count myself lucky. I have a source to go to when things are their blackest. So today, on the Darkest Saturday of the year, I find myself offering this song as my prayer:

Let the Morning come soon!



1 comment:

brd said...


Thank you for your thoughts on darkness. It seems that the stream of posts from this week showed an accute consciousness of the darkness. And your musings and prayers have summed up the 'why' behind the darkness--the fear, the peril, the hopelessness.

These last two posts, though, point to a second theme--abiding. The wonderful hope, the glorious (I can use that word, now, for it is sunrise and Easter and the son's sun glows pink in the sky right now) truth that Christ abides.

The voices of the children in the song you chose hold a youthful confidence of the the abiding love of Christ. That is so appropriate in welcoming this new day. But the song from the other post of yesterday talks of abiding too, perhaps more from the perspective of old coots like me--"let me never, never outlive your love for me."

I am very thankful for the faith that abides and endures.