Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Could sleep require more faith that even being awake. . .
As much as these are true, the sleep at the end of the day that our bodies need and our minds yearn to enjoy is also an act of faith. Sure, it does require faith to live but we live in possession of our reason, understanding, strength, and will. We have choices to make and actions to take that too often mitigate against the idea of living on pure faith. But when we lay our heads on the pillow at night, we surrender the powers of reason, understanding, strength, and will and we entrust all to God. It is the ultimate act of faith for certainly none of us knows when we close our eyes in sleep that we will wake up the next day. Every night is therefore an anticipation of the day when can never know for certain, of the last day we no more will awaken here on earth, and when our lives can no more be improved or salvation worked out with fear and trembling.
I love the night hymns and the evening prayers that meet this rest and its uncertain future with the hope and confidence of St. Paul -- whether we live or whether we die, we belong to the Lord. It takes faith to live but I wonder if it does not take even more faith to rest, to sleep, and not to know for certain what the end of that sleep will be.
Luther has taught us to pray: I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
We also pray: O Lord, support us all the day long of this troubled life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging and a holy rest and peace at the last; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us at the end of the day, at the end of our life, at the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your holy Word ad Sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair, the night when death draws near. Abide with us and with all the faithful, now and forever.
Merciful Father, whose guiding hand has brought us to the completion of this day, we humbly pray You to stay with us and shelter us in quiet hours of this night that we, who are wearied by the changes and chances of this passing world, may rest in Your changeless peace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Gracious Lord, we give You thanks for the day, especially for the good we were permitted to give and to receive. The day is now past, and we commit it to You. We entrust to You the night and rest in Your peace, for You are our help, and You neither slumber nor sleep. Hear us for the sake of Your name.
Lighten our darkness, O Lord, and by Your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of Your only Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
We praise and thank You, O God, for You are without beginning and without end. Through Christ You are the creator and preserver of the whole world; but above all, You are His God and Father, the giver of the Spirit, and the ruler of all that is, seen and unseen. You made the day for the works of light and the night for the refreshment of our weakness. O loving Lord and source of all that is good, mercifully accept our evening sacrifice of praise. As You have conducted us through the day and brought us to night's beginning, keep us now in Christ; grant us a peaceful evening and a night free from sin; and at the end bring us to everlasting life through Christ, our Lord; through Him be glory, honor, and power to You in the Holy Spirit now and always forever and ever.
We praise and thank You, O God, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, that You have enlightened us by revealing the Light that never fades. Night [is falling / has fallen], and day's alotted span draws to a close.The daylight which You created for our pleasure has fully satisfied us, and yet, of Your free gift, now the evening lights do not fail us. We praise You and glorify You through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord; through Him be glory, honor, and power to You in the Holy Spirit now and always and forever and ever.
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, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Eternal God, the hours both of day and night are Yours, and to You the darkness is no threat. Be present, we pray, with those who labor in these hours of night, especially those who watch and work on behalf of others. Grant them diligence in their watching, faithfulness in their service, courage in danger, and competence in emergencies. Help them to meet the needs of other with confidence and compassion; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us at the end of the day, at the end of our life, at the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your holy Word ad Sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair, the night when death draws near. Abide with us and with all the faithful, now and forever. Amen.
We pray when we go to bed, therefore, because sleep is itself an act of faith. We pray that we will enjoy the rest and meet it with a clear conscience. We ask Almighty God to help us see what we have done well and to keep us from pride, to see what we have done badly and to forgive us, and to see what we could have done better that we may learn from it. We ask the Lord of all mercy to forgive our sins for the sake of Christ, our Lord. Then we pray that if the Lord does grant us the gift of another day, we may glorify Him in it and if we do not receive another day, that we may be received into everlasting light and life through the merits and mercies of Christ alone.
Living does require faith. But sleeping perhaps even more. At least the good sleep that rests the mind and refreshes the body.