An Advent Reflection
The theme of the second week of Advent in our parish is “The Promise of Joy” from last Sunday’s readings. Today’s advent verse is from the prophet Isaiah whose preached during the Assyrian crisis in the 8th century bce that led to the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel.
“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” —Isaiah 12:3
For a society where water is always available from the tap, the labor of drawing water eludes us. Nor do we have a mental image of the village women gathering at the well to laugh and tell stories as they draw water in the morning. Backpacking requires you to pay attention to where water will be available, and those watering sites become welcome places of rest even as you work to filter water into your containers. But then we go home to hot showers and a ready tap. The words of our verse are sweet, but we don’t always recognize their richness. Perhaps we can hear it a little in the word ‘oasis’ but for us that word still lacks the sense of communal joy.
For the prophet and his hearers the word ‘salvation’ is about deliverance. It is victory over enemies. It is safety from predators. It is timely rain upon the fields and childbirth without sorrows. It is a world where no invaders steal food stocks and seize whatever and whomever they wish. It is a world where work ends in Sabbath rest. It is a world with shared bread and the sweetness of milk and honey.
The prophet has spoken bluntly about the sorrows the nation has brought upon itself in their turn away from God and one another. They have neglected justice and mercy and sorrows are coming. But though “weeping may tarry for the night, joy comes with the morning.” Even in judgment God’s purpose is salvation, wholeness, goodness, life. And it is coming in bucketfuls.