Pause

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… right? But some days, it just doesn’t feel that way. Joy can seem so distant, like it’s buried beneath the surface or hidden within the dark. And on those days, the thought of being joyful just feels fake and inauthentic. But what if, instead of faking it, we pledged to be real this Advent — real with ourselves, with one another, and with God?

True, it would be much easier to put on a mask and pretend. But if we allow ourselves to fully experience the night, and everything that comes with it, we will be ready for the joy that comes in the morning.

Let’s be brave enough to be real together this Advent, completely present to each moment as we wait with expectation for what God is going to do next.

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Listen

God is indeed my salvation; I will trust and won’t be afraid. Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my shield; he has become my salvation.

You will draw water with joy from the springs of salvation. And you will say on that day: “Thank the Lord; call on God’s name; proclaim God’s deeds among the peoples; declare that God’s name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, who has done glorious things; proclaim this throughout all the earth.” Shout and sing for joy, city of Zion, because the holy one of Israel is great among you.

Isaiah 12:2-6

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Think

Bernard of Clairvaux, a 12th-century monk, said in a sermon that some of us spend our lives like “channels” and others like “reservoirs.” Channels constantly let water flow away, while reservoirs are filled first and then pour water out of their overflow. “How many there are,” he writes, “who remain dry while trying to pass on life-giving grace to souls! We have many channels in the Church today, but few reservoirs.”

In these weeks before Christmas, I behave much like a channel, pouring out my time purchasing gifts, mailing cards, planning events, decorating trees, baking cookies. The very moments that are meant to bring joy often leave me feeling depleted and exhausted.

But what if we chose to live differently this Advent? Today’s text calls us to “draw water with joy” from the reservoirs of our salvation. What would it look like for us to fully soak in each moment instead of overcommitting or outspending ourselves?

May we spend our time thoughtfully and intentionally this Advent, drawing water with joy and living out of the overflow of God’s love.

Mary Alice Birdwhistell

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Pray

Life-giving God, pour your Spirit into me today, that I might become a reservoir, overflowing with new life that only comes from you. Amen.

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Go

Be brave enough to be real.

Be curious about God’s world.

Be fully present to each moment.

Be gentle with yourself and with others.

Be filled with wonder.

And be ready for joy.

Mary Alice Birdwhistell

Mary Alice Birdwhistell serves as the associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, where she enjoys sharing life with a beautifully diverse community of people. She is a graduate of Georgetown College in Kentucky and Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary in Texas, and she claims both states to be “home.” Mary Alice loves the color purple, anything chocolate, and Kentucky basketball.

Advent: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Mark Hayes

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