Wednesday, April 21, 2021

I am thankful for water

I have lived near water for most of my life but I rarely had to think about it. That was until I moved to San Antonio. While not a desert, it is a place where people text each other when it rains on their block. We watch the evening news to learn how high water is in the Edward’s Aquifer and our current water use restriction.

The Bible has a lot to say about water. There are 500 references to water not including rivers, rains, wells, floods, seas and storms. Mary’s water broke and Jesus was born. Water came out of Jesus’ pierced side and he was dead. The Hebrews crossed the Red Sea into a new life. We are baptized as a symbol of our new life. God destroyed the world with a flood. Jesus told the woman at the well that he gives us Living Water.

Water is a big deal. Our bodies are 70% water. The surface of our planet is 71% water. However, 97% is in the oceans. Only 3% of earth’s water is fresh (not salty) but only 0.5% of it is accessible. So, 2.5% of the earth's fresh water is unavailable: locked up in glaciers, polar ice caps, atmosphere, and soil. Some is highly polluted or lies too far under the earth's surface to be extracted at an affordable cost.

One out three people in the world do not have access to clean water. On the other hand, the average American family uses 300 gallons of water per day. FEMA recommends that, in an emergency, each person will need one gallon of water per day. We use 3 gallons of water when we brush our teeth with the water running. That’s three days of water by FEMA’s calculation.

Water is essential for all life and is one of God’s gifts to all humanity. We ought to consume it with thanksgiving and be mindful of those who lack it. The simple act of not letting the water run while we brush our teeth can be one small way we can show our gratitude for this precious resource.

Friday, April 16, 2021

After Easter. Now what?

For most churches Easter is the BIG DAY. We celebrate the risen Lord. Not only do we prepare for a standout worship service, we send postcard invitations to every potential first time visitor we can. Most of our regulars will be there, as well as our intermittent attenders and some first time visitors as well. Everyone in their Easter best.

After it’s all over the church staff takes a much needed and well-earned rest. Things slow down. The excitement and stirrings of faith begin to fade in the hearts of first-time visitors and occasional attenders.

Weariness tends to follow surges of adrenaline but this is the time to increase our efforts. The church year begins now.

Jesus’ first followers had experienced the emotional devastation of his crucifixion followed by the elation of the resurrection. At one point they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 NIV)

This is a good question. In their understanding, this was the whole point. Jesus’ next words must have been a shock. He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8 NIV)

Before they could respond, he was gone but they knew what to do. He had previously given them their marching orders. Words we commonly know as the Great Commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV)

Furthermore, he promised them Holy Spirit power. This is the after-Easter message for all who are followers of Jesus.

The Monday after Easter is the time to follow up with folks who filled out visitor cards. It is the time to encourage attenders to join Bible study groups. It is the time to carry out the discipleship command we have been given. We must strike while the iron is hot.