I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon. Habakkuk 2
One of the most pervasive themes in scripture is the idea of keeping watch. From beloved texts like Psalm twenty-three to the New Testament’s account of the Good Shepherd, it’s a comforting image to keep in mind. God watches out for us. And, in turn, we’re called to keep watch for our neighbors’ needs, as well as to be on the lookout for God’s activity in the world around us. It’s a sacred thing to keep watch, to respond to the difficulties of the people around us. Churches aspire to be communities of hope for this very purpose. Today, I’d like to lift up a group of folks in our town who, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, are keeping watch.
When something happens that is completely unforeseen, perhaps even disastrous, what number do we call? First, we’ll talk to a dispatcher from the Muscatine communications center. Then, within minutes, we’ll see a first responder who is there to help address whatever trouble is going on. It’s really a remarkable thing, when you stop and think about it. No matter what trouble happens in Muscatine, there’s a group of folks who are working twenty-four hours a day to make sure that peace and healing happen to the greatest extent possible. Even while most of us are asleep in the wee hours of the night, crews of firefighters, EMTs, and police officers are at the ready to respond to whatever might happen.
It’s been a short list of times that I’ve had to dial 911. But when we do dial that number, immediately we’re connected to a network of help. Those numbers are the ultimate safety net – isn’t it remarkable how much we take it for granted? There is always someone to help. There is always someone who is keeping watch.
As a person of faith, I believe wholeheartedly that the folks who run toward the problems the rest of us avoid are doing ministry. Having been privileged to get to know some firefighters, law enforcement officers, and dispatchers, I believe they share a vocation that too rarely is appreciated.
How often do we take the time to thank those people whose day-in and day-out routine is responding to the worst day of other peoples’ lives? How often to do we appreciate the detectives in town who spend countless hours building cases to make sure that justice is served for those who have been hurt? If you happen to know a first responder, take the time to thank him or her. And, if you’re looking for a rewarding, if intense, line of work, reach out to our local police and fire departments. They’re always looking for someone with the calling.