This week's post is by Brian Shannon, a Christ Church parishioner and former Vestry member. A sign up sheet for the vigil can be found in the portico on Sunday. 

I’ve always enjoyed the silence and calm of the wee hours of the early morning. As a self-professed geek and introvert, I would stay awake until two or three in the morning reading the latest Tom Clancy novel during a high school summer break. During high school and college, I frequently worked the overnight shift at the local Market Basket grocery store. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I was locked in the store from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. stocking shelves. I liked the work because it paid well and those quiet hours from about 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. when it was just you, a pallet of groceries, and a pricing tool gave you time to think and reflect. I can’t say I remember any particular “oh my” moments during those overnight shifts but I’m pretty confident I did some soul-searching about relationships, college choices, and careers.

chapel-brian-shannon-3.29.17.jpgOne of my favorite activities at Christ Church is the Holy Thursday vigil in the Chapel. I like to attend between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. and stay for two hours. The quiet in the Chapel is punctuated only by the occasional coming and going of other parishioners. The eerie silence of a sleeping city is gradually replaced by the sounds of delivery trucks and commuters as the sunrise of Good Friday approaches. I feel closest to God when I’m in the Chapel during these hours. The dim lighting and the almost total silence allow you to be fully present in the mystery of Christ’s coming death and resurrection. In those quiet moments, I also feel closest to my deceased grandparents and our time together. I’m heartened to think that their strong Christian faith allowed them to enjoy God’s promise of resurrection. 

In January, I participated in the St. Clement’s Church hypothermia shelter for the second time. Unlike last year when the weather was unusually warm for late March, the weather this night was cold with a forecast of snow. We welcomed a dozen guests that night, all grateful for the shelter and warmth on a winter night. By 11:00 p.m. the guests were all sleeping, the calm of the sanctuary broken only by the occasional snores of men deep in fitful sleep. In that moment, I was struck that God was there in the darkness of a snowy, winter night watching over the neediest of his flock. God is always there in the darkness, whether it is the darkness of night or the darkness of our own human experience: fear, sickness, struggle and conflict. Power is not, as some political pundits have argued, in the darkness, but in the light of a God who offers us strength, forgiveness, and resurrection. In this time of political strife and uncertainty, and in the season of Lent, we should remind ourselves to look to the one true light that has, and always will, guide us through the darkness.