Water Month: Introduction

Care for Creation

Water Month

Introduction

 

Recently, Christians have begun to recognize a growing need to care for creation.  Human activities in the last several centuries have increasingly degraded the earth’s ecosystems through excessive waste, pollution, depletion of natural resources, loss of species, and climate change.  Although these problems may seem overwhelming, Christian theology affirms that humankind shares its created-ness with all of God’s good creation, and we must exist in solidarity with the natural world.  We exercise dominion not to exploit, but to “till and keep,” or “cultivate and care for” creation.[1] We are tenants here, not owners.  After all, “The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it.”[2]

 

Our attentiveness to the global ecological crisis as well as our understanding of humankind’s special responsibility to care for creation call us to action.  The following is a proposal for Christian congregations to rethink how we use water.  “Water Month” serves as an opportunity for Christians in community to explore strategies for reducing our negative impact on the Earth as well as developing our relationships with each other and creation.  It is an invitation to treat care for creation as a spiritual practice; a central component of our worship lives together.

 

Water and the Earth

97.5% of all the water on earth is salt water.  Of the remaining fresh water, most is frozen in the polar ice caps, exists as soil moisture, or lies in underground aquifers.  Ultimately, less than 1% of all fresh water is readily available for human use![3]

 

Water functions in a cycle, falling as precipitation, seeping into the soil, running into streams and rivers, and eventually evaporating.  This system is closed, so we can never produce more water than currently exists.

 

Water is a precious gift!  All life depends on water for survival, yet current water usage patterns threaten the viability of our limited supply.  Human waste such as refuse, debris, industrial pollution, chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and vehicle fluids are caught in runoff and make their way into waterways and groundwater.  Such contamination jeopardizes water supplies for human use, but also damages wildlife habitats and endangers ecosystems.  For example, water contamination has contributed to the growth of a “dead zone” at the mouth of the Mississippi River, covering up to 7,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico.[4] Dominated by algae and deprived of oxygen, this area cannot support other kinds of life.

 

Furthermore, existing fresh water supplies are being dramatically depleted.  By 2050, one third of the people on Earth may lack a clean, secure source of water.[5]

 

Water and Christian Community

Through the waters of baptism, we become members of the body of Christ, cleansed of our sin and reborn to new life.  We are made a part of the Christian family by water and the word.  Water is thus an essential component of our communal lives of faith.

 

Furthermore, we are members of a global human family.  We tend to take water for granted, but we also know that many of our brothers and sisters, especially those living in poverty, struggle to meet their water needs.  Approximately 884 million people lack access to improved water sources,[6] and two million children die each year from infections spread by dirty water and lack of access to decent sanitation.[7] Global climate change is further reducing water supplies, particularly for the world’s most vulnerable people, and depleting habitats for water-dwelling species.  Therefore, our attitudes and practices with regard to water use have profoundly moral implications.

 

Finally, water is a common denominator for all of creation.  Sandra Postel of National Geographic writes:

We are connected. All the water here on Earth now is all the water there ever was, and ever will be. Through the cycling of water, across space and time, we are linked to all of life. My morning coffee might contain water that the dinosaurs drank. Earth’s water, embedded with the wisdom of the ages, is literally in our blood. And as molecules of water circulate from sea to air to land—through the clouds, through the rivers, through the trees, through the frogs and fish and mussels and beetles and ants and birds and bees and everything alive, now and then and yet to be—we are connected…we cannot sever one part of the Earth from another without damaging the whole.[8]

 During Water Month, congregation members are encouraged to reconsider the place of water in their faith and life by exploring strategies for conserving water, protecting rivers and other natural water bodies, and advocating for global water accessibility.

Water Month Resources

•introductory PowerPoint presentation

 

•"Living Water" Bible study

 

•Bulletin/newsletter announcements

 

•Form letter to elected representatives

 

•Suggested activities

 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Genesis 2:15.

[2] Psalm 24:1.

[3] World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/docstore/water_sanitation_health/vector/water_resources.htm

[4] http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/deadzone/

[5] http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/?source=NavEnvFresh

[6] http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/jmp_report_7_10_lores.pdf

[7] http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Justice/Advocacy/Issues/Environment-and-Energy/Water.aspx

[8] http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/honest-hope#page=5

 

 

Comments