Today’s scripture reading is from Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4. The watchman upon the watchtower has always been an important symbol of waiting on God and hearing His message. The tallest parapet of a castle is often a watch tower because its height gives a “bird’s eye” view of the surrounding territory. The Watchman serves two purposes, one is to see the signals of events, and the other is to interpret those signals for the people of the city. In ancient through medieval times this was an important occupation, and today we depend just as heavily on those who are in charge of our ‘early warning’ systems. Issuing both warning and good news, a prophet is sometimes identified as a watchman.
In colonial and Victorian times some homes had a watchtower, especially those by the sea so the wives of sea captains could spy the approach of their husbands safe return from a sea voyage. We, as Christians are told to “keep watch”, some of which is in anticipation of Christ’s return, sometimes referring to the act of prayer. Waiting upon the Lord is as active as the watchman waiting to see what events may affect his city, it is wide awake and focused… scanning the horizon with the readiness to act quickly if needed.
Advent is a waiting period. We are waiting for the main event of Christmas, but not drowsily, and not busying ourselves with other events. We are awake to the fact that Christ came to save us, and how in return our grateful hearts are ready to share the abundance of His goodness, love, and peace with others.
Christmas is not far away- only four more days to Christmas Eve. A favorite carol of mine is “Watchman tell us of the night“
Watchman, tell us of the night, what its signs of promise are.
Traveler, over yon mountain’s height, see that glory beaming star.
Watchman, does its beauteous ray aught of joy or hope foretell?
Traveler, yes – it brings the day, promised day of Israel.
Watchman, tell us of the night, for the morning seems to dawn.
Traveler, darkness takes its flight, doubt and terror are withdrawn.
Watchman, let thy wanderings cease; hie thee to thy quiet home.
Traveler, lo! the Prince of Peace, lo! the Son of God is come!