In late August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf Coast. We were living in Jackson, MS, nestled in the middle of the state, 150 miles from the ocean. But that distance didn't matter to Katrina. She still wreaked havoc in our city, power outages, lines for gas, and the influx of the displaced. We had need in Jackson but nothing like the need of those coastal communities. So in the weeks after the storm, we saw convoy after convoy of aid supply pass through Jackson on their way to Gulfport, New Orleans, and Bay St. Louis. My now decade old memory still associates two words with those convoys, words printed across sloshing containers on the back of trucks, words that spoke of both disaster and life—potable water. Those two words, so common to me before Katrina, took on a deep value in those weeks as if they were synonymous with the two words, gold bullion. Hurricane victims were dependent on those convoys that in part carried that which is essential to sustaining life—potable water.
In a similar vein, there is so much to Christmas that is life-giving, the trappings, traditions, toys, trinkets, and turkey with trimmings. The convoys of Christmas music radio stations, of boxes from the attic, of commercials hawking every conceivable gift, of clogged roadways on either side of December 25, these supply chains provide potable joy into households across America. And we can be as dependent on these convoys for our joy as coastal residents after a hurricane.
Jesus had a similar conversation with a Samaritan woman, a conversation about potable water. Around a well of water, Jesus promised her he could give her water that would never run out, no convoys, no buckets necessary. The conversation quickly turned to the crux of Jesus's point. This Nazarene by a well was and is God's Messiah. In his atoning death and glorious resurrection, he makes a way for all who come to him by faith to know a constant and sweet union with God forever—eternal, potable life.
The question then for your Christmas joy is whether it comes by convoy or Christ. Are you united to Jesus by faith and so rejoicing with a joy only he can give through his Holy Spirit? Or are you depending on the supply chain of gilded cultural joy? Jesus did not come to establish an American holiday. He came to offer his life for many, that in him, those ransomed could find eternal life.