“All Along the Watchtower”

December 11, 2017

Rev. Dr. Paul Shupe, Senior Minister 

On Saturday after Thanksgiving, a lovely autumn day in Massachusetts, I had occasion to be in one of the lovely spots on earth: Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Thanks to a tip from my son Sam, we climbed to the spiral stairs to the top of the granite Washington Tower. When you emerge from the dark staircase, the whole city of Boston is available for your eyes. One can see the Bunker Hill monument, the Back Bay, and trace the Charles as it winds its way back into the interior.  It’s a stunning view.

As a reader of history, I know well the value of high ground, of having a vantage point above the surrounding countryside so as to never be surprised by the approach of anyone, friend or foe.

In one of the Bible texts we use for Advent, Jesus speaks of the coming of God’s reign on the earth and tells his disciples to be like watcher from a tower, ever ready to see it when it arrives, so as not to be caught unaware or unsurprised. Standing atop the Washington Tower, on the day after Thanksgiving, I thought of this text and suddenly found my Advent senses sharpened.

According to Mark, the first words Jesus spoke in public was that the reign of God was near, had drawn nigh, is at hand. Our faith teaches us that God is always near, ready to break into our lives with what is needed: courage in the face of wrongdoing, consolation amid our grief, wisdom in the darkness of doubt. Those who know this can live every day, as a watcher in a tower, in expectation that God is near.