In 2017, the theme of the "Neighbors in Need Offering" for the United Church of Christ was the phase above. Still today, it is our responsibility to "protect the sacred."
This Sunday's message will speak about the "sacredness of water." We will be studying Genesis1:1-2, 20-22 and the Revelation to John 22:1-2, 17 in order to understand how we help in providing a "just world with clean water."
I remember reading a heart-wrenching Still Speaking Devotion by Kaji Dousa, in which she tells the story of a mother from Flint, MI who had given her kids water from the contaminated water supply in Flint. Her kids bones hurt. They had skin lesions. Their bodies' convulsed, and they started to lose their memories.
"My heart breaks," she tells the reporter, "because, fact of the matter is, I handed them the glasses of water." Glasses of water infused with cleaning chemicals so powerful that they were burning holes into pipes across the city. Tiny hands around dangerous cups a loving mother unwittingly shared, wrote Dousa.
I am still in utter disbelief at how something like this could go on and on and on without the state of Michigan fixing the problem, and now we hear there will be no indictments for those who brought about this injustice...especially on kids.
Dousa quoted from Matthew 10:42 where Jesus says: "And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple -- truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."
She goes on to explain that "Jesus' cup of cold water is deceptively simple. It might sound like the least his disciples could do..." And while many faith communities, non-profits, and companies stepped forward offering bottled water, there still needs to be a whole series of injustices that need to be dealt with before this mother or any parent in Flint can allow their kids to drink contaminated water from the faucet. And this is just the publicized incident, but how many more of these situations exist within communities across the United States? How many kids around the world drink contaminated water?
Dousa finishes her devotion with these words: "Jesus counts on us to tend to the justice issues so that the cup of cold water we hand our child will not make his bones hurt, will not give her convulsions, will not do anything but provide the refreshment God seeks for all of God's children."
God's presence is like a river: God's justice flows like the waters. To tend to the water reminds us of the source of life and gives practical expression to addressing our environment and the needs of the poor.
–Diana Butler Bass-Grounded-p.88.