June was a wonderfully busy month in worship — especially celebrating our new members on Pentecost, honoring our scholarship recipients, and graduates, and lifting up this year’s VBS theme: Living Waters for the world.
Pastor Lorrie preached a super sermon on June 12th to lift up that theme. (see below) As we head into summer which will be filled with clean water of every type: lakes, streams, oceans, water parks, water balloons and easily accessible drinking water. May we all take to heart what Lorrie preached and carry our ‘water-gratitude’ wherever we travel, recreate and rest. ♥ Rev. Jen
Somewhere in Cuba, it was still dark, the very early hours of the morning, when the young woman arrived at what had become known as The Fountain. She was thin and bedraggled, her eyes swollen from so much crying and lack of sleep. Her little boy, only 2, suffering terrible dysentery had finally been hospitalized and there seemed little possibility that he would survive. A nurse had told her that her only hope was to find clean water for him. A few weeks earlier, a water purification system had been installed in the community and she heard stories about that water being safe, but she had to get there and had to find clean bottles to put the water in.
Every 15 seconds, a child dies from a preventable water-related disease. 780 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water and this scarcity has caused more refugees than all the wars in history. Some predict that in this century, wars will more likely be fought over water than over oil.
In many ways, I don’t think that we can feel the sense of the importance of running water. We don’t know what a luxury it is. We have it when we turn the knob on our faucets. If we’re thirsty, we turn the knob, water comes rushing out, or we can take cold water out of the refrigerator. Many areas of our world today don’t have such luxuries. Finding fresh water can be a matter of life and death — not only for people, but for all living things.
A few weeks ago Sherm and I were hiking with friends at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge where we traversed a boardwalk over the pond. It was fun to see the shining shells of painted turtles as they swam just beneath the water’s surface. My friend was sketching the wild iris and yellow water lilies while recalling early Biology class, a thimble full of water from such a bog, placing it under the microscope and being absolutely dumb-founded to discover the amount of life it held. It was truly living water.
In scripture, running water is a powerful symbol for life. The Isaiah passage which was written to bring hope to a refugee people who had been forced to leave their homeland, is full of God’s promises to provide rivers and fountains and springs in the midst of wilderness and drought and hopelessness, God’s loving, caring, giving Spirit bringing not abandonment, but new life.
When we look at the world through the sunglasses of our culture we get stuck in the pounding percussion of these 3 words: I Need More!!! But when we let Jesus‘ story become our story we open our minds, our dreams, our hearts until we hear these 3 words: More Than Enough!!! And we become certain that there is no place or people beyond the reach of grace.
So let’s consider what we have received from God; this gift of the Spirit, it is not meant to stay within us, but is meant to flow out of us. Listen again to Jesus’words: “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Oh, are we not then to look for opportunities to become Jesus’ hands and feet, understanding a little better the plight of our sisters and brothers everywhere who regularly find themselves at the end of the line and the back of the bus? Aligning ourselves with those who put pipes, pumps, and filters in places near and far, we can become partners who give and receive the blessings of our common humanity, not as possession or commodity, but as gifts freely offered.
Living water is neither stale nor boring but fresh and flowing. It’s an image of power. Isn’t the same true for Spirit-filled believers and congregations? See the signs of the Spirit at work in a congregation, this congregation, dreaming dreams of new ministries, having visions of new life and mission, and now finding the strength and power of the Holy Spirit to attend to the practicalities of making them real. That’s what Pentecost is all about. Does this celebration of Pentecost have a ripple effect? You betcha!! We, the followers of Jesus, can now carry on Jesus’witness and ministry in the world because our lives have been empowered by the Spirit. Believers, remember to let your own living water brim and spill over from your heart, and know that you are a channel of life in this world.
Amen ♥ Rev. Lorrie Skinner