And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
Have you ever been really thirsty? I’m not talking about the grab-a-quick-gulp-from-the-tap-whenever-you-feel-like-it kind of thirsty; I’m talking about the level of thirst that makes lukewarm water from a garden hose on a hot summer day taste superior to a bottle of Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque. If you’ve ever known that kind of thirst, and you live in the western world, then I’m willing to bet that you were able slake that thirst at will.
I fear the full import of this water metaphor from John’s Revelation is lost on those of us who can choose our H20 from filtered, flavored, distilled, purified, and bottled from Fiji, Norway, France or some unknown overpriced “spring” in the middle of nowhere. If we’re “green” consumers, we carry our Brita-filtered tap water in decorative Sigg or Nalgene reusable containers with the worthy goal of reducing unnecessary plastic consumption. Given such power of choice, how can we the privileged can even begin to comprehend these words in the same way that a woman in the Central African Republic, who must walk several miles each day to fill odd containers with precious water that would make most of us sick to think of having to drink, hears them?
Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you really thought of water as a gift? It is, after all, the most abundant compound on the surface of the planet. Approximately 70 percent of the earth’s surface is comprised of H20, yet many of the world’s poorest areas are facing alarming shortages of potable water. Right now, according to Charity: Water, almost a billion people (or almost one in eight) lack access to clean drinking water. How can we live with the fact that so many of our neighbors lack this vital resource?
Jesus talked about living water, and in this week’s New Testament reading (Revelation 22:12—14, 16—17, 20—21), we are invited along with all God’s children to partake of this gift of the water of life that will quench our thirsty souls for all eternity. It is an amazing image of everyone freely drinking and sharing Christ’s gracious gift.
I started taxing myself for water usage this year, with the proceeds dedicated to a charity that helps provide clean drinking water and wells for those who need it most. A few cents every time I use this common resource so often taken for granted adds up to about $30 a month. Just that meager amount saved and given over the course of one calendar year will provide clean drinking water for 18 people for about 20 years. It’s a small price to pay (less than a daily cup of coffee) so that others need not be thirsty. My “water tax” helps me to focus on the living water offered by our Lord and gives me the opportunity to share God’s love and experience something of the unity of which Christ speaks in this week’s gospel.
We’re only two months past World Water Day and smack in the middle of the United Nations’ Water for Life Decade. I invite you to think about water this week as you prepare for worship. See this vital resource in light of John’s vision in Revelation. Ponder how fortunate we are to have regular access to clean water as you contemplate John’s gospel record of Jesus’ prayer on behalf of those who follow him. Consider how we might share the good news of Jesus Christ through some very tangible actions that would provide water for the all of God’s children. Together we can point others to the living water of Christ AND give them access to clean water here on earth.
To think about:
How might you initiate a water tax or a special offering in your congregation, Sunday school class, or small group? How would this small act make a difference to your neighbor and help you be better stewards of the many blessings you been given?
- Click here to check out this brochure from the UN about the Water for Life Decade.
- Click here to find out what ELCA missionary/hydrologist Joe Troester and Pastor Deborah Troester are doing to help provide both access to clean water and Living Water in the Central African Republic.
- Click here to read Gary Haq’s blog entry “Stressing Over Water.”
- Click here for information about the Advent Conspiracy and another way your congregation can help provide clean water and a different focus for the holiday. It’s not too early to start planning!