Water is a prominent theme in both the First Testament, and the Second. I was listening earlier this week to a talk by Ched Myers, speaking about both the ecological and the theological significance of water.
Listen here. Roll Like A River
There’s a lot to digest there, but I’ll just refer to sonmething he said at the end. He’s made the point earlier that in his context in Southern California, the river Ventura that once flowed all year round is now seasonal. This is largely because the water is taken off by residential needs and industry futher up stream.
That has all sorts of ecological consequences to the environment, as well as affecting those who live down stream.
The situation is not unlike the Jordan Valley, where many people, (Palestinians in particular) have to contend with water shortages, as well as the land itself being impoverished.
Already, we are seeing water as a commodity being fought over, and who wins ? The rich. We are familiar with wars over other resources like oil, but we are now realising that the main building block of life – water – is getting scarcer in many areas, and a cause of conflict.
In Southern California and the Jordan Valley, it is the environment and the people downstream that are affected.
Ched Myers draws a parallel between the ecological and economic issues here, and the way that water is spoken of in scripture.
There are many passages that speak of the life giving properties of water – coupled with water as an image of our spiritual lives. In Psalm 1 water is a symbol of God’s way of living.
Happy are those whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper. (Psalm 1 verses 1-3)
In John’s Gospel we hear Jesus say these words:
“Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” John Chapter 4 verse 14
It’s clear that water is not only essential for our very material lives, but is also a kind of code for what we might call abundant life, where there are no winners and losers, but where everyone has their needs fully met.
The Prophet Amos says this:
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them;
and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon.
Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos Chapter 5 verses 21-24
Water flows down hill … but by the time it reaches the communities where Ched Myers lives, or the Palestinian People in the Jordan Valley, there is not enough left for everyone.
In my last-but-one post, I said that the Christian life is about ‘Gift and Task.’ This post is definitely about ‘Task’. The task of every one of us to seek justice for those who are furthest away from the source of blessing. Those who are on the margins where the resources do not reach, as well as the land that is impoverished by lack of water.
Grace and Peace.