Some weeks the lectionary passages sit in the front of my mind, while other weeks they drift aimlessly around the back of my head, and usually the difference is the business, and the busy-ness, of the rest of my life.
This was one of those weeks with lots of adjustments to be made as my husband left for a month out of town, as it snowed and snowed and then rained on top of the snow, as I took over the responsibility for the shoveling and the dog walking, tasks that are his when he is at home.
These transitions are temporary, but I am also close to a work transition, as the interim I am serving winds to a close. All ministry is like this, I suppose. You get a sense that what you have been doing, or the way you have been doing it, draws to a close, and it's time to move on to the next level or the next job, and I'm sure in long term ministries pastors experience these shifts, too, whether the next move will be geographic or not.
It's true in marriage. When you meet a person and fall in love, and decide to affect a domestic merger, as my husband and I, two formerly married people in the middle of their lives, called it, you move into the unknown. You move into the night, the unknown.
My former husband is away this weekend, and due to the very cold weather, he asked if our daughter and I would go to his house and turn on a space heater each evening to keep his kitchen pipes from freezing. I can't remember the last time I let myself into his house, but I could see the need, and so we went. He assured me on the phone that the back porch light with the motion detector would be turned on, that we would have the light we needed to find our way in the back door. He even left on a kitchen light, unheard of! Still, it felt strange to go to his house in the dark. It had snowed, just briefly, leaving a coating of flakes on the crunchy ice of the path he made from the front of his driveway to the back steps. We moved along it gingerly.
I had only the vaguest description of the space heater to go by, since the instructions were given via cellphone and not while the giver was looking at the equipment.
Nicodemus went out into the night, not knowing what he was getting himself into, either. He went out into the night at risk of allying himself with a person he "knew better" than to get involved with, the guy who had just turned over the tables in the Temple, a man who was "on notice" by all the ruling powers. Why would he want to associate with Jesus?