NightWatch

We cannot imagine the world before electric lights. It was, shall we say, dark.
Each time the sun slipped over the western rim of the world, a gathering darkness crept across the land from the east. Only the thin flames of candles, the withering wicks of oil lamps, and an inconstant, silvery moon challenged the night. The stars, more than we can see these nights, decorated the darkness but did little else.

With darkness came fear and with the fear came the night-watch.

Someone had to stay awake through the night; it was filled with danger.
Evil people did evil things in the dark. In the military, in industry, in cities and in towns, watchmen take this job: police, firemen stationed near the alarm, emergency personnel on duty around the clock, and other folks who have trouble sleeping.

Mark Twain paints a poignant scene of the 19th Century night in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Huck and Jim are running downstream aboard a raft on the huge Mississippi River. They traveled at night, keeping time by the lights on the shore. Most of the candles and lanterns went out after midnight and when they started reappearing it signaled the approach of dawn. Some candles burned through the night, “Where there is sick folk, maybe.” Huck said.

Setting the Night-Watch is an ancient practice.
In the scriptures the watchman makes a powerful metaphor for an important aspect of pastoral leadership and priestly leadership in the home. There had to be a constant awareness while the town or the home was unaware and vulnerable to the villains and villainy of the dark hours of night. Someone would sleep in daylight so those who slept in darkness could do so in safety.

Still today, the darkness is real and it is an encroaching darkness. Parents and Pastors must be vigilant on the NightWatch for the darkness wants to steal the light in our homes and churches.

The problem is: we are only mortal and cannot go long without sleep.

Who can be our Night-Watch? The Lord and His friendly angels, of course.
We can rest and wake up rested. We can dream and wake to follow those dreams. Families can bond together and the Family of God can enter into that rest because Jesus and His mighty angels have the NightWatch.

Scriptures:
Psalm 119:145-152
I call with my whole heart; answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statutes. I call to you; oh, that you would save me! I will keep your decrees. Early in the morning I cry out to you, for in your word is my trust. My eyes are open in the night watches, that I may meditate upon your promise. Hear my voice, O Lord, according to your loving-kindness; according to your judgments, give me life. They draw near who in malice persecute me; they are very far from your law. You, O Lord, are near at hand, and all your commandments are true. Long have I known from your decrees that you have established them forever.
1 Peter 2:9-10 NIV
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
John 3:19-21 NIV
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”
John 1:3-5 NIV
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Isaiah 60:1-3 NIV
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
Revelation 22:3-5 NIV
The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
Romans 13:11-14 NIV
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Isaiah 21:11-12 NKJV
“Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” The watchman said, ‘The morning comes, and also the night.

Evening Prayers from the Book of Common Prayer:
Against Perils
Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in Your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of Your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
For the Presence of Christ
Lord Jesus, stay with us, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be our companion in the way, kindle our hearts, and awaken hope, that we may know You as you are revealed in Scripture and the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of Your love. Amen.
For Rest
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give Your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for Your love’s sake. Amen.

Song:
All Through the Night
Traditional Lullaby

1. Sleep my child and peace attend thee,
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night;

2. Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
I my loved ones’ watch am keeping,
All through the night.

3. Angels watching, e’er around thee,
All through the night
Midnight slumber close surround thee,
All through the night

4. Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping
I my loved ones’ watch am keeping,
All through the night

5. While the moon her watch is keeping,
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping,
All through the night

6. O’er thy spirit gently stealing,
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling,
All through the night.

 

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer
For more on Pride: “The Invisible Mountain”

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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