This Advent, Seek the Living Waters
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[Editors' note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from members of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. The lectionary readings for this post are Isaiah 10:5-19; John 4:1-15; and Romans 4:1-8. Keep reading the Bread Blog for more Advent reflections each day.]
I do not like hot weather. I mean, I really do not like hot weather. This is ironic since I have spent so much of my life living in tropical climates. First, I lived in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. While I was in college in Philadelphia, I visited my parents several times while they were living in the Middle East. Later, for work, I was constantly travelling to warm destinations year round. Then, my wife and I lived in Georgetown, Guyana, a city directly abutting a large rainforest. Now I live in Okinawa, Japan. I keep asking my wife if we can perhaps do an assignment somewhere other than a tropical clime, like Vladivostok or Ulan Bator, Mongolia. I do not think this is going to happen very soon.
Other than slowly learning to tolerate constant sweat, I have learned a lot about water while residing in consistently warm climates. First, it is critical to life; and second, you always ensure that you have an adequate supply before you travel anywhere. It is this idea of water that I want to highlight in today’s readings. John’s gospel tells us, “and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.” The two-hour period from noon to 2 p.m. is generally the hottest time of the day. It is no surprise that Jesus chose to rest from his travels at this time of day.
It is also no surprise that he chose to rest near a constant supply of water. Upon rereading the passage, I am struck by the exchange between Jesus and the Samarian woman. So here is Jesus, during the hottest part of a day, asking a person for water. Yet, he is in immediate proximity to a well. Wouldn’t this passage have greater strength if it occurred in a remote area far away from any water supply? In the middle of the desert or on a mountaintop would add a certain drama to the narrative. Yet, Jesus is at a well.
As water is crucial to life, it is an ideal metaphor for God’s salvation. But, Jesus offers the water of salvation next to an ample water supply. It makes me think of the most famous line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”
As we once again approach Christmas and the totality of the Holiday Season that now seems to start in mid-October and ends in mid-January, don’t we find ourselves in a world that has ample access to water, but is unable to drink it? Do we find ourselves so distracted by the briny noise and confusion in our everyday world that we cannot look to the manger in Bethlehem and the miracle of a small yet tumultuous supply of crisp and fresh water that is once again flowing? Drink up, it’s worth it.
Prayer: Dear Almighty God, may we always be cognizant of the glory of your salvation and that your love, mercy, and grace are always present throughout our lives and in our world. Amen.
Matthew Weitz is a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Visit their website at www.nyapc.org.
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