“With Joy You Will Draw Water” A Devotion on Isaiah 12: 2,3

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; God has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”—Isaiah 12:2,3

Advent brims with promise and hope. The long-expected Holy One is drawing near, bringing peace and righteousness.

Advent promises a great reversal! Even the natural order of things will be overturned. The lion will dwell with the lamb. The desert will blossom and bloom.

And there will be great joy! My friend Anne McKinstry wrote a joyous Advent hymn that refers to today’s text from Isaiah. Her hymn, “With Joy Draw Water” (Number 109 in the New Century Hymnal), begins this way:

“With Joy draw water from the spring; salvations living well.
The Holy One is in your midst; glad praises sing and tell.”

Drawing “water from the wells of salvation” is such a lovely image. What will that living water do for us? What thirsts will it quench? What wounds will it heal? What stains will it wash?

In our holy imagination, especially in Advent, we watch and wait, pray and hope for God’s great promised reversal. We hunger and thirst for righteousness. We look and long for justice, for love and peace and joy to flourish as those wild myrtle bushes blossom in the driest of deserts.

Today our world is broken and lost, but someday, someday, in God’s own time, God will lead us to the wells of salvation, and there we will draw water and we, and our world, will be healed.

Prayer: Surely you, O God, are our salvation. Help us to trust you and not be afraid, as we look ahead with joy to your coming among us.

(This devotion is from “Come, Lord Jesus” the 2018 Advent Devotional from the United Church of Christ’s  STILLSPEAKING WRITERS’ GROUP.)

Emmanuel, Come to Us! A Prayer for our World at Christmas

sunsetO God of wondrous grace and holy love, we give you thanks and praise that you entered into our world to share our messy humanity. In this holy season we are quick to speak and sing of your majesty, mystery, glory and might. Yet this season reminds us that you are not a distant God, but come close to us in Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh. He is Emmanuel, God with us, and in and through him you are with us in all the comings and goings, the beings and doings, of our days. Continue reading

A Prayer for Christmas (and for our time) from Karl Barth

streamThe Swiss theologian Karl Barth, who many (among them me) consider the greatest Christian theologian of the Twentieth Century, never stopped being a pastor among the people. In his years as Professor in Basel, he frequently preached to the prisoners at the local prison. Those sermons and prayers are available in a fine little collection called “Deliverance to the Captives.”

Here is a prayer from Christmas, 1958, which to me, has a sad but profound resonance with our own time:

We remember before thee all darkness and suffering of our time; the manifold errors and misunderstandings whereby we human beings afflict one another; the harsh reality which so many must face without the benefit of comfort; the great dangers that hang over the world which does not know how to counter them. We remember the sick and the mentally ill, the needy, the refugees, the oppressed and the exploited, the children who have no good parents or no parents at all. We remember all those who are called on to help as much as men can help, the officials of our country and of all other countries, the judges and civil servants, the teachers and educators, the writers of books and newspapers, the doctors and nurses in the hospitals, the preachers of thy word in the various churches and congregations nearby and afar. We remember them all when we implore thee to let the light of Christmas shine brightly . . . so that they and we ourselves may be helped. We ask all this in the name of the Savior in whom thou hast already hearkened to our supplications and wilt do so again and again. Amen. (p. 143)

(Photo: R.L.Floyd, 2016)

Continue reading

December “Sadness and Silences”

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An important writing mentor of mine was my friend and colleague the late Arnold Kenseth. Here are a reflection and a prayer of his for Advent. For more about this remarkable writer, poet and minister see my  post “Arnold Kenseth: A New England Poet of the Sacred.” Continue reading

“Wolves and Lambs” Devotionals for Advent 2016

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The United Church of Christ 2016 Advent Devotional, “Wolves and Lambs,” from The Stillspeaking Writers’ Group is now available. I have two devotionals in it.

Why “Wolves and Lambs”? Here’s a snippet by Quinn G. Caldwell from the Introduction:

We’re calling this year’s Advent Devotional “Wolves and Lambs” because we think that the image of a wolf and a lamb lying down together should be comforting, yes, even sweet.

But it should also be deeply unnerving.

As the first Christmas was. As this one will be, if Isaiah and God—and we—have anything to say about it.

You can order it here. You can see a sample preview here. Order soon. They only print so many and some years they have run out.

“He’s Back!” A Christmas Story with a Happy Ending

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My friend and former Pittsfield colleague Karen Gygax Rodriguez is the Pastor of the Federated Church of Green Lake, Wisconsin. On the Second Sunday of Advent, December 6, the baby Jesus figurine was stolen from the church’s nativity scene.

The police investigated, but had no leads. They speculated that the thief was from outside Green Lake, since “everybody knows everybody here, and it would have been returned by now.” Continue reading