Year B, Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 16, 2021: Psalm 1

The bible is full of water imagery, from the parting of the Red Sea to Jesus having breakfast at the lakeshore after his resurrection. Biblical writers understood something about water that contemporary people, particularly those in the global north, often forget: water is not a resource; water is the source of life. Have you ever lived in a community under a boil water advisory? Nothing makes you treasure water quite like it. As of March 2021, 33 Indigenous communities in Canada are still under boil water advisories—the longest of which has been in place since 1995.

Worldwide, the situation is even worse. Some statistics from the World Health Organization:

  • 785 million people have no safe drinking water available within a 30-minute walk.
  • At least 2 billion people depend on water contaminated with faeces.
  • By 2025, half the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas.

How can we prosper like a tree planted by a stream of water if our own water sources are contaminated, or worse, gone?

This award-winning, best-selling book is not without controversy. It is clearly anti-pipeline. If you aren’t sure about how you feel about pipeline projects, I get it. Our society depends on oil for a dizzying array of products and conveniences. It’s difficult to imagine a life without oil, even a life with less oil. But it is impossible to imagine a life without water—because life is impossible without water.

I believe God calls us to protect creation.

The Lord God took the human and settled him in the garden of Eden to farm it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:15 (CEB)

All of creation belongs to God, and deserves our reverence and protection. We make an idol out of oil when we choose our dependence on oil over our need for water. That dependence on oil isn’t going away any time soon, but we can take a stand against the further expansion of it. We still need oil to fuel our cars, heat our homes, and manufacture the million little plastic trinkets in our lives, but we don’t need pipelines to get oil from one place to another at less cost. It is time we accept the cost of what we already use and accept that alternatives might, for a while, cost more.

Let us delight in the law of the lord so that we can be as trees planted beside streams of water, yield our fruit, and prosper. Let our dependance on the allegorical water of God inform how we protect the physical water of the earth which sustains all of life.

Questions to ask before you read:

  • What are some things you can’t live without?
  • What are some things you would actually die without?
  • What happens to a tree that gets lots of water?

Questions to ask after you read:

  • What happens to a tree that doesn’t get enough water? What about one that doesn’t get any water for a long time?
  • What happens to our bodies if we drink dirty water?
  • What can you do to help keep the world’s water clean and safe?

When we refuse to criticize our dependence on oil and refuse to demand safer ways drill for it, move it, and use it, we fail to live up to God’s command to care for creation.

Lindstrom, Carol. We Are Water Protectors. Roaring Broom Press, 2020.

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