Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Come to the waters

I ate a lot of popcorn before bed last night and woke up quite parched in the middle of the night. I got up to get a drink of water, watching eagerly as the cup filled and gulping the water down with great fervor.

However, I realized with every gulp that my thirst was strangely untouched by the water, and as soon as the glass was empty I began filling it up again, hoping a second glass would do the trick.

This process was repeated several times before I began to put the pieces together and figured out that I must be dreaming. Annoyed that I was spending my few precious hours of sleep so miserably, I tried to wake myself up to no avail. Quite a bit miffed, I filled up another glass of water.

And as Christ told the woman at the well “Whoever drinks the water I give him shall never thirst” and cried out within the temple in Jerusalem “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink” just as God said through the prophet Isaiah “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters,” there is quite a lot of room for a Christian analogy here. Indeed, Christ did promise that “Whoever believes of me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.’” We have passed through the waters, we have entered into that rest, and he has met our thirst.

But there is another way that I am still guzzling water like I was in my dream, still carrying a thirst that water is meant to fill, still drinking the memories of water or the hope of water, still waiting for the fullness of the ultimate water. To whatever extent I can say that, it seems dangerous to me to emphasize the thirst-quenching nature of Christianity without an acknowledgment that we are still waiting for the eschatological fulfillment of our longings, still waiting for the full quenching of the thirst that has already been met in a preliminary way.

As we approach Advent, we remember that we are lonely, longing, wandering, expectant people. How could we not be? We have tasted the beginning of a fulfillment that is still in progress.

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