December 13, 2016
Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes.
The mentions of water appear in the Bible more than 700 times. It is a very powerful image that symbolizes both good and bad, chaos, death and rebirth.
It is most obvious to us in reference to our baptism. In the “Thanksgiving for baptism” rite in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, we read,
Through the waters of the flood you delivered Noah and his family.
Through the sea you led your people Israel from slavery into freedom.
At the river your Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Holy Spirit.
By water and your Word you claim us as daughters and sons,
making us heirs of your promise and servants of all.
Water can destroy life. Thoughts of ravaging floods such as those that did widespread damage and destruction in Louisiana in August of 2016 immediately come to mind.
Water also sustains life. We are instantly reminded of the water crisis that still plagues the people in Flint, Michigan. Supply pipes that carry water into this city have corroded over the years due to cost cutting measures that led to neglect, thus contaminating the water with lead, making it unsafe to drink it or to bathe in it. That this catastrophe is now in its 10th year in the most advanced country in the world is unimaginable.
People of faith have responded to this tragedy, although there is still far to go. ELCA World Hunger, to mention one organization, has donated thousands of dollars to help support the immediate need for water. Hundreds of congregations have also pitched in, whether with cash or bottled water.
As we prepare for the coming of the Savior, the words of the prophet Ezekiel remind us that the people of Flint are not alone. Christ calls us to come to the aid of people in need. To quote the Rev. Monica M. Villarreal, Pastor Redeveloper of Salem Lutheran Church in Flint, “Flint will rise from the ashes because although Jesus was crucified, God raised him from the dead. To everyone who is moved by the tragedy in Flint, thank you for being the hands and feet of Christ that tend to the wounds which carry deep within them the sign of the cross.”[i]
[i] Gather Magazine, FINDING FAITH, HOPE AND RECONCILIATION IN THE FLINT WATER CRISIS
June 30, 2016.