[Pretty much every week, I write a…something…for my church‘s weekly eNewsletter. Way back when, it was my take on a pastoral letter. Then some time along the way, I started thinking of it more like a newspaper’s opinion column. Now I suppose I think of it as a blog post. Whatever I write for eNews usually ends up here too. Though usually in a slightly different form, edited for the more general audience that I hope is (could be someday?) reading here. Over there it’s called The View from the Dance Floor.]
It seems Oscar Wilde was right. Life imitated art far more than usual for me this week. I’m sure I’m not who ol’ Sam Coleridge (Yes, I can call him ‘Sam.’ We’re tight like that.) had in mind when he wrote his famous poem, but all week I ran into “water, water, everywhere.”
(Although, unlike that Ancient Marnier, I got through the week without killing an albatross. Or any creature great or small, for that matter. Well, at least not that I killed personally; I mean, I did eat this week…um, let’s move on…)
The water theme started with scripture. Both of this week’s lessons (Exodus 17:1-17 and John 4:5-42) involve thirsty people. Both stories depict those thirsty people doing just what you’d expect them to do: trying to find some water to drink!
In their efforts to quench their thirst, the people in both stories have interesting, thought-provoking and question-inducing encounters with God. Questions from these stories that I’m considering and hope you will too:
- For what does your soul thirst?
- What things and people are life-giving for you right now?
Let me guess what you’re thinking: thus far this might be interesting stuff, but it’s still pretty standard pastoral musings. I’d be hard pressed to disagree. But that’s where the week took an unexpected turn…
Tuesday was World Water Day. Now, I’ll be honest. I’d never heard of World Water Day and had no idea it existed until it showed up all over my Twitter feed that day. I don’t know about you, but I generally don’t even notice just how available water is to me. Among the kitchen sink, the water dispenser in our fridge and our bathrooms, I probably can’t get more than 20 feet away from a water source!
Meanwhile, here’s something I learned through World Water Day:
- Between 900 million – 1 billion people on the planet (about 1 in 6 of us) don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water.
Even more sobering are the effects of that lack of access:
- Every week there are 42,000 deaths due to unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation. 90% of those deaths are children under 5 years old.
Reading that horrible fact made me want to learn more. Fortunately, there are many organizations doing really good work helping developing countries find and access safe water: Water.org, Charity: Water, National Geographic (which has an eye-opening tool to calculate your water footprint, yikes!), World Health Organization…
The Untied Methodist Church (UMC) is among them as well. Read an introduction to UMCOR’s work (the United Methodist Committee on Relief is the humanitarian aid arm of the UMC) accessing clean water:
Here are UMCOR’s Water Projects
See videos, pictures, facts and more stories through The Board of Global Ministry’s 10-Fold project. (I must admit, it is difficult to keep all the UMC’s boards, agencies and projects straight. Lots o’ bureaucracy in the UMC!)
All of which leads me to this question:
- How are you responding (and/or how can you respond) to thirsty voices in your community?
I’ll share more thoughts and questions about water – and offer those present a chance to chime in – in worship this Sunday, March 27. Hope to see you there! Or, you know, comments here are always appreciated.