A daily reflection drawing from Advent Bible passages – to help us grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.
Welcome to the Advent Collective Day 21. Our Bible passage today is the whole of Revelation Chapter 22, and I’m going to be reading verse 17 shortly, but before I do here’s a little festive introduction……..
In August 1994 Mariah Carey sat in a flat with a cheap Casio keyboard and a tape recorder, bashing out some chords and a simple melody that she thought might work for a Christmas song. At first her co-producer wasn’t convinced – he thought it was too basic. But they released the song anyway.
It went on to become the 11th best-selling single of all time and last week, 26 years after it was released, it finally reached the number 1 slot in the UK charts for the first time ever. 11 million people streamed it in the space of just 7 days.
The song, of course, is ‘All I want for Christmas is You.’
I share this not because I am getting any sort of promotional rewards from Mariah, but because it leads us to ask the question – What do you want for Christmas this year?
As we approach the end of a most bizarre, challenging, demanding, and, at times, surreal year, what is your soul craving and thirsting for?
I spoke to two women last week who are both working from home, in demanding jobs, which involve back to back Zoom calls all day. They see no end in sight, and are craving face to face human interaction, longing for a time when they can escape the four walls and the screen that have dominated their last 10 months.
Maybe you are a teacher desperate for the Christmas holiday so that you can get a break from the endless task of contact tracing, teaching online lessons, and covering for colleagues that are self-isolating.
For some, the deep longing of our heart is to see family, to hug grandchildren, and to not be alone. For others, our soul is gripped by fear and we long to feel safe and secure again; or perhaps we crave joy and happiness in our lives, having faced bereavement and sadness this year.
At the end of 2020, what is the deep longing of your heart?
Our answers will all be different, but together, let’s read and reflect on the words of Revelation 22 verse 17. I’m reading it from the Passion translation.
“Come,” says the Holy Spirit and the Bride in divine duet. Let everyone who hears this duet join them in saying, “Come.” Let everyone gripped with spiritual thirst say, “Come.” And let everyone who craves the gift of living water come and drink it freely. “It is my gift to you! Come.”
It is a beautiful verse and, like much of Revelation, it has parallels and links with other parts of the Bible. In John Chapter 7 verse 37 Jesus declares, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” And there is also Psalm 42 verses 1 and 2 which says: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
Whatever you want for Christmas, whatever grips your heart, whatever your soul longs for, whatever you crave and thirst for; we read in Revelation 22 verse 17 that Jesus will satisfy, meet and provide for all our deepest needs and desires.
However, we often seek to satisfy our spiritual thirsts elsewhere. We try to meet and fulfil the longings of our hearts with things other than Christ.
After the awfulness of 2020, many of us are seeking to make this Christmas the best ever. Supermarkets have seen an unprecedented demand for festive food – with more luxury and higher priced options being purchased than ever before. It’s the same with toys – parents are trying to make up for lockdown, missed birthday parties and playing with friends, by buying more gifts than in previous years.
We are trying to meet the needs and desires of our heart through buying more stuff – it’s called consumerism. And there are other ways in which we try to satisfy our souls – through drink, drugs and sex, through our careers and salary, through social media affirmation and followers.
However, if we try and find fulfilment in these things, whilst our desires may be quenched for a short while; we will quickly find ourselves becoming thirsty again. It is only by drinking the living water that Jesus gives us, that our thirst will be satisfied forever.
And that is why alongside the promise of living water, we see something else in verse 17; we see an invitation – “Come!” The word is used 5 times in just one verse.
As we approach the end of this most bizarre, challenging, and demanding year – Jesus says ‘Come!’
Come and drink freely of my living water. Come and enjoy this gift that I am giving you. Come and let me satisfy the deep longings of your heart. Come!
During Advent we remember that this is an invitation that God has been extending to us and all mankind for years – Come! Come and see this gift I am giving you. Come to the manger! Come and meet Jesus and you will find that he meets all your needs and desires! Come!
Jesus, come and fill us afresh with your Holy Spirit – your living water. Lord, we give you the desires of our hearts, the things that we long for, the things that we crave; help us to always come to you – the One who fulfils and meets all our needs. Amen.