This scripture is a good reminder of what Advent is all about – watching and waiting with anticipation!
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Psalm 130:5-8)
I also recall “watching and waiting,” in the gospel hymn, “Blessed Assurance.”
“…perfect submission, all is at rest!
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love…”
These words bring a memory of mine back in my college days at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. It was at the end of the Fall Semester, 1970, when most of my fellow classmates were going home for Christmas. Had it not been for a gracious invitation of some friends in Fort Yukon, Alaska, I would have been stuck in the dorms!
On early morning of Christmas Day, I got on a flight to Ft. Yukon and met my friends at the airfield. The next day was Sunday when we attended the local Episcopal Church. That was when my adventure would really begin!
I met a mission team who were going to Arctic Village, Alaska the next morning. They invited me to come along! So, I got up very early on that Monday, and went to the airfield to meet the mission team. We flew 120 miles further north! Now, Fort Yukon is on the Arctic Circle! I was going 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle!
We landed at the airfield in Arctic Village and were met with dog sleds and snow mobiles which took us into town! That night was a “Potlatch” – a great feast followed by a vespers service at the local Episcopal Chapel – literally a log cabin! We had a service of thanksgiving and prayer. Following that service, everyone gathered back at the community center for native dancing and music!
The daily routine would be visiting the people’s homes mid-morning until 2 PM when it was already dark! We would go to the chapel for vespers and then the Community Center for dancing and singing, then bedtime!
I was anticipating that I would stay about 3 or 4 days, but it extended to more than a week! The plane that would come was grounded because the temperature had fallen to -70*! I was bundled up and able to move around, but the evening was most challenging. We had an oil drum as a furnace that would heat the building in which we were sleeping. We would stoke the furnace and it would be toasty most of the night until morning which was barely freezing!
But, morning came, we would have breakfast, and continue our daily routine of calling, attending vespers and then dancing at the community center! All that while it was -70*!
Still, I was advised to pack my bag and be ready should the temperature break. Well, finally the temperature did break to a balmy 5*, but warm enough for the plane to come the next morning! That night at the vespers service and at the community center was really joyful anticipation that the plane was coming! I even learned a few dance steps and could pretend to dance! Oh how embarrassing it was, but the people didn’t mind! I was having fun with great anticipation of the plane coming the next morning!
And the plane did come! I was picked up by a snow mobile pulling a sled and rode to the air strip. Two other people and myself got on board and flew back to Fort Yukon and from there I returned to Fairbanks, just in time for the Spring Semester to begin!
This story is a bit lengthy! But it gets to the experience of anticipation in packing every day to be ready should the plane come! Meanwhile, live the moment of anticipation – visiting the homes and sharing in worship and dancing at the community center! It was another way of watching and waiting for what was to come – in this case the plane!
May Advent be a time to be ready, anticipate, but continue to be in fellowship, in worship, and in fun with God’s people. For the plane is coming – or more exactly, the Son of God is coming and we are eagerly awaiting His arrival!
Prayer: O God of anticipation and hope, be with us in our daily routine of Advent that we can be ready, watch, and be constant in the joy of worship and fellowship with the kindred of faith in Jesus Christ, whose coming we eagerly await. Amen
Rev. Dr. John J. Duling