During Advent this year, I will be reflecting daily using this Advent Photo Devotional. The word designated for December 7th was #Eternal. Admittedly, I am a few days behind, but I am trying to catch up on the series.
One of my grandpa’s served in the navy during World War II, and after the war he would serve as an English teacher, dean of students, and a pastor. At his funeral about 8 years ago now (which is still hard to believe), one of the hymn tunes that I incorporated into the prelude was “Eternal Father Strong to Save.” The text is rich and I will present it below, but it is also commonly known as “The Navy Hymn.” When reading the text it will probably seem obvious as to why it is embraced as “The Navy Hymn.”
During Advent we remember that life does have an end on earth. We remember that there are challenges, wars, death, and crises sometimes which do not seem to have an end. There is violence, fear, and uncertainty. This year this seems to be more the case than in recent years. But in spite of all of this, in spite of the feeling at times that everything is crumbling, we are assured of the promise that we have a God who is both eternal and “strong to save.” We believe in a God who has promised the hope of eternal life, salvation. This is a promise, that by its nature, is one that will not be forgotten by God. God does not forget the promises God makes with God’s people.
During this season of Advent, we remember this especially through the incarnation, birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s son. Even though our concept of time may be short, and we may feel that so many things are going wrong, in spite of this, God is there right beside us and with us, Emmanuel. This is an eternal promise. It’s one that we sing about in the hymn text that follows, but also one that we affirm this day too, as we remember December 7th, Pearl Harbor Day.
“Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm has bound the restless wave, who bade the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep: oh, hear us wen we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea.
O Savior, whose almighty word the winds and waves submissive heard, who walked upon the foaming deep, and calm amid the storm didst sleep: oh, hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea.
O Holy Spirit, who didst brood upon the chaos dark and rude, and bid its angry tumult cease, and give, for wild confusion peace: oh hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea.
O Trinity of love and power, all travelers guard in danger’s hour from rock and tempest, fire and foe, protect them where so e’er they go; thus evermore shall rise to thee glad hymns and praise from land and sea.”
Who do you remember today? What peace does the reminder of an eternal promise give you? What does it mean to you that God is eternal?
Source: “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” William Whiting, John B. Dykes, found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 756.