“God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble.”

Psalm 46:1

On the second Sunday of Advent in 1941, all was quiet as my father, Ike Schab, finished his breakfast and prepared to assemble with his fellow musicians of Navy Band 13 on the deck of the USS Dobbin. On a typical Sunday they would play “colors” as the flag was raised, and then attend morning worship. But this Sunday was not typical. It was December 7th, and the Dobbin was at anchor in Pearl Harbor.

Dad did not go to worship services on this day. By the time of the scheduled services that Sunday morning, the attack was in full fury. He spent the morning passing cases of ammunition to the deck guns while the hull of the Dobbin reverberated with each near miss. His ship was spared devastation but many of his friends were not.

In the aftermath, memorials were held, and sailors and soldiers said many prayers and worshipped together. Christmas still came to the survivors of Pearl Harbor in 1941, who were now preparing for war in the Pacific. The good news of the gift of Jesus was a sustaining force for my dad in the remaining years of the war, and throughout his life. And at 100 years young, while staying at home for COVID, he follows our worship and music on YouTube.

They say there are no atheists in a foxhole, but I’m not so sure. Dad’s faith in Christ pre-dated the attack, and I’ve been to more than one war zone worship service where it was just me and the chaplain. Our faith was not born of war; it was a sustaining force that helped us endure it. Dad and I both approach Advent as an opportunity to wonder at God’s gift, and to be thankful for God’s love in full display.