Friday, January 10, 2020

Shift Work

Police work is undertaken in shifts: eight, ten or twelve hours long.  Line up is the beginning of a shift, when officers receive instructions, updates and reminders.  Toward the end of line up, sergeants sometimes ask if chaplains have anything for the good of the shift.  If we say anything, it needs to be brief,  prompt and relevant. 

Brevity is often supplied from the Book of Proverbs.  One verse can pack a punch.  Shift work is a 24/7 undertaking, perpetually unfolding on one of 31 days each month.  Proverbs is a book of 31 chapters.  We select the chapter corresponding to the date of the sergeant's request.  Tonight is the ninth day of the month and the sergeant asked if there was a word for the good of the shift.

The Spirit of the Lord prompted me to offer, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  One verse, and two minutes, have been compacted for you, the reader.  I thank sergeants for inviting me to be brief, prompt and relevant.

Transcript from Line Up:

Proverbs 9:10 mentions fear.  God has a fire and brimstone, jealous in judgment, side.  This text's mention of fear is more in line with awe and reverence.  Think a child to a parent.  Scripture teaches that the glory of children is their  parent(s).  "You're the largest and greatest human I've ever seen!"  As a child "fears" a parent, so is the fear described of the Lord.

When I read "wisdom" in Proverbs, I hear the word "when". Wisdom is knowing when to do a thing.  Cops need to know "when" to do what cops do.  When do we talk or go hands on; when do we use command voices or listen; when do we shoot or holster; when do we rush in or wait for back up?  Who knows when?  Not the chaplain...I don't know when you're supposed to do what you're supposed to do.

Command might know but if they're honest they don't always know when.  My reading of scripture says that the beginning of our knowing "when" is at the beginning of our awe and reverence of the Lord.

I am sharing this text with you tonight because the Lord is all I do.  As a chaplain, I'm not expected to do what you do but I come tonight with the assurance that there are people praying all over this country for your "when".  Your shift is covered in prayer tonight.  My hope is that the text will bring you to the beginning of wisdom so that each of us goes home in ten hours.

Let's begin.

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