Two Sundays ago, churches that follow the mostly lectionary-based liturgical calendar began a new year of grace on the first Sunday of Advent. Sunday, December 11th and its vigil on Saturday, December 10th will be Advent 3; the liturgical name of this third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete, "Rejoice" after the Latin introit or entrance prayer that comes from Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always!" I teach adult Sunday School at my church; most weeks we study and reflect upon one of the appointed Revised Common Lectionary scripture texts for the day. The first reading for all four Sundays of Advent for current "Matthew's lectionary year A" is from the first part of the long Hebrew Bible book of Isaiah—chapters 1 through 39. However, the writing and concepts are not necessarily all of a piece, definitely not all from Isaiah of Jerusalem, but in any case, whenever we teach, preach, read, wonder, we still need to deal with what's in the canon, and deal with where we find it placed. For Advent 3, in Isaiah 35, we have pure poetry about God's redemption of human creatures and the redemption, re-casting, almost a re-creating of the natural creation. And how? With water! Water was the womb of earth's first creation, of our first birth and of our second birth. Water. Is. Life. Life is joy!
FMF: Joy–Water is Joy!
1The wilderness and the dry land will rejoice! the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
Desert! We easily forget southern California is a coastal desert because of all the water we import from elsewhere in the state and from outta state, but everyone knows we need to "Save The Drop LA." Desert! The Ancient Near East and Contemporary Near East are desert habitats. Specifically in the history of the people of God, we remember the exodus desert of the Sinai wilderness as The Place of identity formation, the locus and the situation where YHWH led, shaped, fed, created a people after his own heart. The God of the Exodus and the people of the exodus rendezvoused with each other, fell in love and slowly moved toward covenantal trust.
Have you driven through the hot desert during the day? Or maybe at night when the air is cooler? Have you ever visited a desert (Anza-Borrego, for example) in glorious spring bloom? 1st Isaiah tells us the desert itself will "rejoice with joy and singing." I once had a housemate named Rejoice—being near her was a reminder to enjoy, and then enjoy again and again. Walter Brueggemann tells us of course the seas roar!...no more pollution! Of course the trees clap their hands...no more clear-cutting! Images of the eventual reality of the full redemption of all creation – not solely humanity – reverberate through all three sections of the book of Isaiah and are prominent in the psalter, particular in Nativity psalms 96, 98, and 148; what a fabulous lead-in to our celebration of the great trinitarian feast of creation that's Christ's Mass this poetry picture is for us. The desert rejoices because as you already know—Water. Is. Life. Water is joy! Rejoice!