For me, God’s presence feels warm at Christmas. When I enter a church during Advent, I leave the warm winter air and enter a space that is warm.
Heaters ticking warm, dry air
That smells like Christmas decorations
And kicks up ancient dust
That makes it extra churchy
Christmas is a time for abundance: the decorations, songs, pageantry, and good company.
This week, Isaiah tells us, “Seek the Lord where he may be found, call him while he is near.” But I’m not finding God in the usual places, and I’m not calling God like I normally would—in my churchy churches or communal celebrations. I don’t feel God’s nearness…This holiday season has felt a little more scarce than abundant.
And yet, we are promised JOY.
You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation
Isaiah reminds me that even when the well runs dry, I keep dropping the bucket.
This is an act of faith and hope in God’s promise. God’s ways and thoughts are not mine; they are much higher. This is not elusive; God isn’t setting some unattainable standard.
I know God. She is not crafty, nor conniving. God offers newness.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.
I know God because She has revealed Herself—and not just to me. God revealed Godself to Abraham, Sarah, Hannah, Moses, David… We have a whole tradition of stories about how God makes good on promises. We call it salvation history.
John reminds us that God did renew the covenant: through water and blood. The Advent season we just experienced is about remembering and celebrating the incarnation. God revealed Godself in a miraculously physical way. God continues to reveal Godself. The covenant is continually made new through the beloved community.
In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments.
The covenant reminds us that we are part of the Holy People.
We are God’s people: hungry, thirsty, without money, beloved.
Because we know God, we trust God.
We trust that we are each beloved
And together a holy people.
The steadfast love of the covenant makes me confident and unafraid. I’ll keep dropping my bucket. I’ll keep practicing hope. I’ll trust God to make good on Her promise of joy.
How will you practice hope this week? What draws you to God’s life-giving water?
Maddie LaForge is a current M.Div. student at the Jesuit School of Theology. Her current areas of interest are Christian social ethics and pastoral theology. Prior to JST, Maddie graduated from Spring Hill College, majoring in theology and psychology. She also served as a Jesuit volunteer in Tacna, Peru from 2015-2017.