When I was just 19, I needed a job to continue to pay for my studies at the university. I stopped by the church right next to campus, which I could easily walk to, and asked if they had any work. They needed a night janitor. I learned to sweep and mop floors, dust all the beautiful light colored wood in the building, set up chairs, and yes, even clean urinals and toilets. Late at night, when the building was entirely dark, I would begin my menial tasks.

It wasn’t long before I was bored in the repetitive and lonely job. I found a stash of old cassette tapes, and dug an old Walkman and puffy foam earphones out of my desk drawer back in my room. The cassettes were sermons that were recorded ten years earlier or more. Some of them had even stretched over time so that the preacher had an odd higher voice. But this was before iPods, so I listened to pass the time. I heard great sermons on the Feeding of the 5,000, the Rich Young Ruler, and the Man Born Blind. I learned about obscure Old Testament prophets and learned even more about famous Bible people like Moses, Daniel, and Paul. After I had listened to all the tapes, I re-listened to my favorite ones. I found an old set of the Bible recorded in the King James Version, which they didn’t even use in my lifetime in the church any more. It sounded odd and foreign to me—like listening to an obscure play by Shakespeare. I liked how the Psalms sounded in particular in that odd old tongue, and listened to those over and over again.

Sometimes when I would be working in that church in the middle of the night with all but a few of the lights off, I would notice something moving in the distance. It made my heart jump. Is someone here? Did they break in? Did I leave a door unlocked?…

 

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