Gift at Risk

Gift at Risk
Clarkston United Methodist Church's Bridges Out of Poverty training

Isaiah 41:17-20

The poor and needy search for water,
     but there is none;
     their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them;
     I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
I will make rivers flow on barren heights,
      and springs within the valleys.
I will turn the desert into pools of water,
      and the parched ground into springs.
I will put in the desert
     the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.
I will set junipers in the wasteland,
     the fir and the cypress together,
so that people may see and know,
      may consider and understand,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
      that the Holy One of Israel has created it.

They could not believe it. In Flint, Michigan, church and community folks in the majority-Black community had been alarmed when their elected city council was displaced by an administrator, who decided to cut costs by altering the source of drinking water. They raised concerns for two years, as they experienced rashes and other health concerns. Suddenly, the lead poisoning of the Flint public water system hit national news in 2016, and their concerns were confirmed. As news coverage poured out about the water crisis, we learned that the decision to tap into a polluted water source, without paying for needed filters, had caused pipes to leech lead into the water. Yet General Motors, fearing corrosion of their machinery, had their water routed from the original clean source for car production. Officials had refused to admit there was a problem, yet had provided alternate sources of drinking water for their own staff, while ignoring the community. The community has been left with long-term health concerns, particularly for children, and worthless property values. Emergency funding has not yet passed Congress. The message seemed to be that some lives matter while others do not—evidencing race and class hierarchies in our nation.

Advent is a time of holy preparation for the arrival of the Messiah—the one who God promised would come to usher in God’s kin-dom. The prophet Isaiah spoke poetically to the vision of that kin-dom—one where everyone could sit beneath their vine and fig tree, at peace, and unafraid. In an agrarian society, Isaiah understood the centrality of water to people’s existence and God’s hand in making the deserts alive through water. At general conference in May 2016, United Methodist Women and many friends rallied in defense of the human right to safe and clean water. The United Methodist resolution, Protection of Water, brought to general conference by United Methodist Women, observes that, “In the Bible, water in both its physical and spiritual dimensions is a gift. God covenants with God's people and invites them to experience fullness of life. A measure of this abundant life is God's offer of water as a free gift without cost or price (Isaiah 55:1)…Water is an integral part of God's radical expression of God's love to all humanity. Water cannot be monopolized or privatized. It is to be shared like air, light, and earth. It is God's elemental provision for the survival of all God's children on this planet.” We are called to act for justice in challenging policies that put this precious gift at risk.

Prayer: God, may we prepare the way of the Lord by honoring and protecting your gift of life that you offer us through clean water. May we join with you in building a kin-dom where all people and nature are valued. Amen.

Carol Barton is executive for Community Action with United Methodist Women National Office.

Posted or updated: 12/6/2016 11:00:00 PM

Advent Candles

Give Thanks. Give Now.

Mission Focus:

India: Anna Tillou Cottage for Mentally Challenged Women: Providing vocational training skills and shelter for mentally challenged women.

Testimony for December 4-10:

Thanks to the support of the faith community, each Christmas season, children in our centers receive a special gift chosen just for them. Joy and excitement fill the room as each child receives their gift. Every now and then, you notice a child who pauses – perhaps to reflect upon the blessedness of the holy season. -Dave Howery, InterServ-St. Joseph, Mo.


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