COLLECT OF THE WEEK
Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. - Book of Common Prayer, p. 219
The man left the building late that night. He was a pharmacist at the hospital downtown, a 24-hour operation that provided services to the hospital as well as others that needed medications at other than normal daylight hours. His was the 3 to 11 shift. The pay was a little better, but he sometimes wondered if the money was really worth the time away from his family. But it had its benefits too, since he could be at home during the mornings to spend time with his wife and younger children. As he made his way through the hospital campus toward the parking garage, he found himself caught up in the normal cares of many young family providers. How would he manage to provide the things the family would need plus all the other things that continued to come up as the kids got older – braces for crooked teeth, contacts and glasses, new clothes, cars (eventually), and, of course, college and other educational expenses that were getting closer each day. Never mind the mortgage on the house, health insurance, life insurance, two family cars. The list was almost endless. His wife was a “stay at home” mom right now, but would she be able to remain so with all the pressures of day to day expenses? He made a good living, but there never seemed to be enough money to meet current expenses let alone put anything away for the future.
And they had just received their pledge card from the church in the mail yesterday. His wife had left it on the counter where he got his coffee each morning, knowing he would see it. No comment, just left it out. Really? Where was that going to come from?
He had reached the stairs to the upper levels of the parking garage by the time his thoughts got to the pledge card. Sure, they attended church fairly regularly (well, almost every other week, anyway). He and his wife were both raised in the church and considered themselves Christians. But beyond that, religion simply had no real place in day to day life, and to squeeze money from his budget for that sort of commitment just didn’t seem likely. It was one of those things that he knew they should do, but could put off until it was forgotten.
His car was parked on the third level of the garage. He reached the top of the stairs and turned left to walk the last 50 yards to the car. Still deep in thought, he noticed, on the edge of his consciousness, that the lights seemed a little dim tonight. The garage was always a dim and creepy place, even in the daytime, but tonight it seemed much more so. Just his imagination, he thought. He was about halfway to the car when the lights went out completely. Black dark followed for a few seconds, then the emergency lights flickered on for a few seconds, then they too went dark. He continued on toward his car. He had taken the door remote from the pocket of his jeans and toggled the “open” button to turn on the interior lights. Nothing. Not even a click. Now he was concerned, not scared yet, but getting there. He knew he could use the key to open the door. He kept a gun in the side pocket of the door and took some comfort in that thought. After all, he was downtown, in an unlit public garage. Everyone that watched the news knew the dangers of just that sort of situation.
Just as he reached the car, the emergency lights flickered. The one near his car came on and glowed dimly near the hood. A stranger stood in the shadows near the car. The hood to his sweatshirt was up, obscuring most of his features. His hands were in the front pocket of the sweatshirt. And while the stranger did not seem particularly threatening, the situation clearly was. Not knowing what else to do, the man inserted the key into the door lock and unlocked the door. He opened the door and reached for his gun, but it was not there. In full panic mode now, he turned to face his assailant... to be continued.