The Scripture Readings for this week are:
- Psalm 104:1-9, 24-35 (VU p.826)
- Revelation 22:1-5
- Matthew 8:23-27
Early Thoughts: Water of Life. That is what those words from Irish Gaelic mean (they also happen to be used for whiskey in both their Scottish and Irish versions -- according to Wikipedia at least):
Uisce beatha (Irish pronunciation: [ˈɪʃkʲə ˈbʲahə]) is the name for whiskey in Irish. The equivalent in Scottish Gaelic is rendered uisge-beatha. The word "whisky" (as spelt in Scotland) or "whiskey" (as spelt in Ireland) itself is simply an anglicised version of this phrase, stemming from a mispronunciation of the word uisce in Ireland or uisge in Scotland. It should be remembered that Irish and Scots Gaelic developed as unwritten languages and had no standard spelling until more modern times so the difference in spelling likely has little to do with mispronunciation; though according to the Whiskey Museum in Dublin, Ireland, the different spelling began as a marketing decision (for increased pricing) - other companies followed the trend. This development may in turn have influenced the Modern Irish word fuisce ("whiskey"). The phrase uisce beatha, literally "water of life", was the name given by Irish monks of the early Middle Ages to distilled alcohol. It is simply a translation of the Latin aqua vitae.As we know water is essential for life. It is also a sign of life. That is why there is so much time searching for signs of liquid water on Mars. If they find water there is a chance they will find life, there may even be a chance someday we could find a way for Mars to support human life (though I think the latter is a little more far reaching).
Water is also an integral part of our faith story. In Genesis 1 the story begins with the Spirit of God moving over the waters of chaos. Later in genesis we have the story of Noah and the flood. Throughout the Patriarch stories we find oases. Isaac and Jacob and Moses all find their wives at wells. Then later Moses leads the people to freedom through the waters of the Red Sea and Joshua leads the people into the Promised Land through the waters of the Jordan. In between Moses finds water for the people in the midst of the desert so that they will not die.
Turning to the Christian Scripture we have more water. John the Baptist baptizes with a baptism of repentance in the Jordan, John then baptizes Jesus. In the Gospel according to John, Jesus turns water into wine at the beginning of his ministry. In that same Gospel, in Jesus' longest conversation with one person, Jesus meets a woman at a well and discusses water -- both the water in the well and the "living Water" that Jesus manifests. Many of Jesus' teachings take place on or beside the water -- including the passage we read this week about a storm at sea. And the faith story ends with the river of life flowing through and from the New Jerusalem.
It seems that water is important. It is a vital gift from God to the people of God.
Even in practical terms we know water is important. Most of the Earth's surface is covered by water, though most of that water is not suitable or available for drinking and irrigation. Our bodies are mostly water (I remember a Star Trek: TNG episode where an alien contact referred to the Enterprise crew as "ugly bags of mostly water").
If water is so essential to Life why have we done so poorly by it? We in Grande Prairie, like most people in Canada have the luxury of turning on our tap and getting clean safe water. Not everyone in Canada, much less around the globe has that luxury.
If water is life, if water is a gift from God, how might we best honour the gift and support Life?