Advent Word: Water

Water is today's word in the Advent Word Calendar 2019 for which I am trying to write a post each day.

Water is essential to life. Is that why I've written about water so often on this blog? There's nothing more refreshing than water when you're thirsty and tired. There's nothing more life-giving than water when dehydrated. There's nothing more cleansing than water when dirty. Without water we stay thirsty, tired and dirty. Every cell of our bodies need water. Without water we die.

I'm used to having safe water on tap at home. It's hard to imagine how hard it must be for those who don't have easy access to safe water for drinking or hygiene. How tiring it must be to have to carry water daily from a distant source, a task usually done by women and children. This Advent, how about giving a Christmas present to help the 785 million people in the world who do not have clean water close to home. You can do this by donating to a charity like Water Aid or another charity doing similar work.

I am so grateful that today and every day I have safe water at home for a shower, to flush a toilet, and for cleaning, cooking and drinking.

Without water we couldn't live, so it's not surprising that most of the world's religions use water in a variety of symbolic ways. During Advent, Christians remember how John the Baptist baptised people in the River Jordan as a sign of repentance, turning away from sin and towards God. The ritual wash in the river water marked a fresh start, a change of direction for those who intended to lead a new life, loving God and loving neighbour.

Jesus himself submitted to a baptismal wash by his cousin John the Baptist. He did not need to do this, but he did. He wanted to be alongside all sorts of people, fully immersed in being human. The message of Christmas is 'God with us', wholly immersed in humanity, from the amniotic fluid of Mary's womb, through the washing of every day life and the water and blood that flowed from him as he died on the cross.

Water is essential to life, but as well as our body's thirst for water, there's another sort of thirst - thirst for meaning, for respect, to know and be known in relationship, for love, for 'Emmanuel', God-with-us.