Rejoice! Joy is Like Water in the Desert

PWBBy Kim Redigan, an Advent reflection on Luke 3:10-18 for the Faith Outreach Committee of the Detroit Peoples Water Board

Today we light a pink candle on the Advent wreath and sit with the demand of the day – Rejoice! In these waning days of the season, Laudate Sunday calls us to joy. Not superficial optimism or the mindless distraction of malls and materialism but, rather, a deeper dig into Advent darkness where new roots are taking hold and joy lies waiting like a buried treasure.

During a harsh season of water shutoffs, devastating lame duck power moves, and a war budget that has brought us to the brink of spiritual death, as prophesied by King, we are invited to take a deeper dive into the churning waters of the present moment and trust that we have cause to celebrate, despite all evidence to the contrary.

So, today we sing out with joy and gladness and compose a litany of gratitude for the ways in which the Divine shows up on our doorstep in beautiful and unexpected ways . .

On a daily basis, neighbors are helping neighbors living without water. Behind the scenes, water is being delivered and families are being helped with exorbitant bills while the work for affordability carries on with faith that the water will indeed wear away the rock of indifference and opposition residing in city hall – Rejoice!

Last Wednesday, two of our local water justice resisters were released from jail where they were being held for standing on the side of the poor – Rejoice!!!

The night before their release, a vigil was held outside the county jail in solidarity not only with Bill and Tommy but with prisoners everywhere who are incarcerated for being poor or black or undocumented or mentally ill or addicted – Rejoice!!!

That same evening, water advocates gathered in Detroit to share food, song, art, and love for one another – Rejoice!

 Local and global water protectors continue to resist the privatization of our sacred water – Rejoice!

As I sat down to write this reflection, a young Muslim girl who lives down the street rang our door bell and gifted our family with a box of sweets and wishes for a Merry Christmas, reminding me that I am blessed to live and work in communities where the Divine is expressed in such a multiplicity of ways – Rejoice!

Today’s pink candle is a sign that points us in the direction of joy and gratitude rather than paralyzing despair or the grim seriousness that mirrors the tragic soullessness of those who are sucking the life out of our world because of their addiction to power and money. This addiction also affects those of us working for justice who may find ourselves caught in the same addictive cycle by succumbing to chronic rage and unexamined trauma that we too often take out on ourselves and one another. Today is an invitation to loosen the yoke of our own inner oppression and reflect on the fact that if we can’t get to joy, we are not looking deeply enough.

And that is why today’s gospel calls us once again back to the desert where we can see the way to joy with more clarity.

And what is the way?

It is the way of the neighbor who shares her outdoor water hose with the family next door whose water has been shut off.

It is the way of the one who shares a coat with the man sleeping on the steps of the church on these cold December nights. 

It is the way of those who share soup and break bread with those who live off the crumbs that are carelessly brushed from the rich man’s table.

It is the way of those who refuse to place burdens on the poor through extortion schemes and corporate tax breaks and exploitative payday lenders and business dealings that crush the poor.

It is the way of being baptized in the wild waters of uncertainty that come with an open-ended Yes to Love and a commitment to community.

It is the way of surrendering to the stern discipline of the winnowing fan that separates the wheat from the chaff in our own hearts and lives.

There is nothing abstract or theoretical about the way to joy.

The way to joy is found in service, solidarity, and simplicity. It is boots on the ground, hands in the dirt, and eyes on the prize.

It is as clear and precious as a glass of clean, cold, affordable water.


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