Back to Top

Ash and Oil: March 18

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the ones who believes in me drink.  As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”  (John 7:37-38)

Water, as the scientifically inclined will be aware, “lives” in a cycle: moving between solid and liquid and gaseous states, from rivers and lakes to clouds in the sky, to the snow and the sleet, the fog and the rain that return to the earth and the water that makes up our bodies and those of all the other life forms of God’s creation. We are born from water. And while we more commonly speak of ashes and dust as our mortal bodies die, we could equally speak of the return of the waters of which we are made to the cycle of life in that creation, an ultimate reconciliation of ourselves with the waters which give us life.

Cycles, or circles, are fundamental concepts of traditional Indigenous spiritual wisdom. Indigenous peoples use the circle to demonstrate how everyone and everything in creation is connected, is related. When connections are severed, relationships broken, the circle becomes incomplete and reconciliation, or the healing of the break, is required to restore fullness of life.

In this season of Lent, we are reflecting on our responsibility to care for the created world as people who have been given new life by drinking from Christ’s living water. We marvel at the resilience of God’s creation—its capacity to heal and be renewed—even as we grow increasingly aware that our ecosystems are no more immortal than are we. We know how much harm we have done and continue to do to the land, and the air, and the water, and consequently to all the other creatures who also live upon this earth, who do so much to make our lives better, indeed to sustain our lives. 

We live in a nation where access to clean water is considered a right of citizenship yet we must confess that many First Nation members, among others in the world, do not share this privilege. Caring for the life sustaining waters of our planet is an act of love for others.

In this season of Lent, as people who have been given new life by drinking from Christ’s living water, let us reflect on what we have done and left undone to demonstrate God’s love to others by sharing the gift of clean water with them.  

Pray: Creator, too often we forget that we are created beings, inextricably bound together with the rest of creation. Teach us to live well into that reality.

Take the next step: Drink only water today, instead of coffee or milk or other liquids you might otherwise drink, and learn about one First Nations community that lives with an unhealthy or inadequate water drinking water. 

[Image: Flickr user Magdalena Roeseler]

The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.