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It’s never good when the phone rings late on Saturday night at the preacher’s house. I go to bed early on most nights. But, on Saturday, it’s a must. Sunday is always around the corner, and I don’t like staying up late for any reason on Saturdays. By 11:00 pm, I’m usually well on my way to sleep. The BBC World Service is playing softly in the background and I’m ready to dream about a full congregation.

The ring scares me to death. I admit it; I am startled. No matter how tough I pretend to be, I am jumpy when the phone rings at night. It’s never, “I’m the preacher; hand the receiver over dear, let me see what problem there is to solve.” It’s always, “Dear God, what’s happened.” As I reach for the phone, hundreds of scenarios run through my mind at the speed of light. Is someone dead, has something happened to my church? Are my parents alright? Are the kids okay?

Tonight it is the latter. It is our middle daughter. She is preparing to graduate from college in a few weeks. In these last few days of her undergraduate education, she finds herself sad, overwhelmed, lonely, and in one of those classic “dark nights of the soul.” I know those places. I tell her this. I have been there many times. She speaks for a moment to her mother. Then, after a time, I ask her to hand the phone to me. “I want to tell her I love her,” I say. Thus begins the process of listening and weeping.

For a moment we say nothing. “Are you alone?” I ask.

She says, “No.”

“Good,” I say. “Keep someone with you tonight. We can come there if we need to.”

I tell her I love her. I will always love her. I say that our brains sometimes lie to us, and we believe those lies. You are more than the chemicals your brain releases to regulate your mood. Listen to me, listen to mom, listen to your counselor, look at your friends: you are life and you are love.

I hear her breathing begin to slow. Finally, she says, “You sound like a motivational speaker.” We both laugh. It’s good to listen to her infectious laugh. I hear hope. I sense that she is going to be okay. She has heard what I’ve said about perspective and making it through the night. I believe she believes me when I tell tomorrow will look entirely different than tonight.

“Look for the first rays of sunlight,” I say. That’s how you know you made it.

That was the most important thing I did all last week. I helped bring resurrection to life, from a two-dimensional story to a three dimensional reality and I did it for my daughter. We walked out of darkness into light. We walked to Emmaus on the phone.

I’m thinking a lot about Easter these days after the resurrection. Jesus is popping up everywhere but never in the synagogues or the Jerusalem First United Methodist Church. He’s always somewhere else – on the road to Emmaus, out by the tomb, busting in the Upper Room, or taking my daughter’s hand and telling her to call home late on a Saturday night. We meet life and resurrection in the wildest places; more often than not, it’s not in church. So where do you think you might meet Jesus today?

–Richard Bryant