Posts From January, 2019

Sermon January 13, 2019: Water

Rev. Dr. Niveen Sarras
Rev. Dr. Niveen Sarras
Rev. Dr. Niveen Sarras

Water is very precious. Who can live without water? Imagine that you don’t have access to water ‎for two or three months. Israelis deny Palestinians an equitable share of the shared water ‎resources. So, Palestinians end up living for a few months without water. They only buy water to ‎drink. People and countries fight over water. Countries that are enemies end up setting in one ‎room to talk. “In parts of Africa and the Middle East, water is contaminated…In California and ‎parts of the Middle East, water is scarce… In Ethiopia and Egypt, Florida and Georgia, water is ‎contested.” Water crisis divides nations but also unite them and bring even enemies together. ‎

The three states: Georgia, Florida, and Alabama struggle over access and control of their shared ‎waters. This problem forced their governors to talk to resolve the conflict. You heard about ‎California four-year drought. Lack of water created ecological and political water crisis and ‎conflict between southern and northern California. I lived in California in 2015, in a city called ‎Morgan Hill. The city imposed restrictions on water use. I could not have my garden. ‎

ELCA World Hunger published a video tells the story of a 14-year-old girl, DIKO Marie, in the ‎village of Niem, in the Central African Republic. DIKO Marie goes to the water source and fills ‎a 5-gallon bucket with water for the day. Fetching water is her daily work struggle. Let us watch ‎her story. ‎

How the story of DIKO Marie and water crisis help us to have a new understanding of our ‎baptism. How can our baptism help us to recognize water as a sacred gift instead of a commercial ‎commodity? ‎

Our faith story begins with water. The narratives of the creation, the flood, crossing the Red Sea ‎and the Jordan into the Promised Land, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, the waters of eternal ‎life promised by Jesus are central to our faith. ‎

Baptism is a symbol of life and death. We immerse into Christ’s death, and we rise with him into ‎eternal life. As the apostle, Paul says, “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into ‎death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we ‎too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). In our baptism, we meet life and death. Freshwater gives ‎life, but contaminated water brings death. In baptism, we become in contact with the vital element ‎for our lives. ‎

The water of baptism is not merely H2O, but it is a visible sign of an invisible Grace of God. ‎Baptism is not our work. It is not ours, but baptism is God's gift to us. We become children of ‎God through our baptism. We do not belong to ourselves, but God's owns us forever. “Water is a ‎sign and instrument of God’s saving work in the world. In multiple ways, baptism shows us that ‎water is not our commodity, but a vital gift of God. Therefore we should not protect and defend ‎water as if it belonged to us, but recognize that it is a gift for all.” ‎

Christian calling starts at our baptism. Jesus calls us to follow him and be his witnesses to the ‎world. “Baptism is a costly calling, not just a cultural rite.” Baptism turns our eyes to the world ‎water crisis and invites us to help our neighbor like Diko Marie to have access to fresh water. ‎baptism invites us to be in solidarity with wounded creation like contaminated water. ‎

God’s gift of water is for the whole world. It is for all God’s creatures. Water is not meant to be ‎treated as a commercial commodity or to serve our vested interest, but water intended for ‎the common good. Thousands of activists from 30 countries gathered in the winter of 2018 in Brazil for ‎the Alternative World Water Forum (FAMA). Their statement states that “We declare that the ‎waters are sacred beings. All waters are one water in permanent movement and transformation. ‎Water is a living entity and deserves to be respected.”‎

Water is God's gift, and it is sacred. I will leave you with a question to consider. What are some ‎ways you can reduce your water consumption? Have you thought to shut the water off while ‎brushing your teeth? Or to take a shower over a bath or to use eco-friendly instead of chemical ‎cleaning supplies? Think of my question. ‎

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