How we care for Creation is the central theme of World Day of Prayer 2018 Suriname.
Water is of great concern for this nation so rich in biodiversity and resources. Most of the population of Suriname lives along its coast, also where birds and sea turtles nest. Floods and rising sea levels due to climate change place both animals and people at risk. Furthermore, water, fish, and people living in the interior who consume both have been contaminated with mercury used in gold mining activities there. The situation for Indigenous people who live close to the land and others who have settled the area will remind Canadians of the people of Grassy Narrows in Northern Ontario poisoned by mercury dumped in the Wabigoon River. Mercury is considered by the World Health Organization as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.
An abbreviated version of this article by Nettie Dueck is our Fellowship of the Least Coin prayer concern for August 2018, but you may find her research helpful in your World Day of Prayer 2018 service highlighting environmental issues and care for Creation.
This is what my research has revealed to me about water:
A: Water & the Bible
The water and the Bible are very much connected. Water symbolizes God’s word in many places throughout the Bible. In both Psalms and Ephesians water is a symbol of God’s word. Ephesians 5:26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word. In Isaiah, the water is a simile for the knowledge of God. Water is mentioned 722 times in the scriptures; that is less than God, Jesus, heaven or love but many more times than faith, hope, prayers, or even worship. Gen. 1:2 “The earth was formless and empty and darkness covered the deep waters. And the spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Water was before anything else and God created the earth out of water and God continues to bathe Creation with water as a sign of blessing and care. Rev. 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come’ Let anyone who hears this say ‘Come’. Let anyone who thirsts come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” All the 722 references link water to God’s creating, blessing, and saving work which alone shows us the importance of water in our spiritual and physical lives. They remind us of our creator and saviour, unite us with the Spirit and transform and purify both the world and every believer. If, as believers, we continue to take the Bible and water for granted and contaminate it, waste or spoil it, we will see that we will have difficulties in our physical bodies as well as in our spiritual lives. So let us ask God, who has entrusted to us this free gift of spiritual and physical water, to help us cherish, honour, respect, and share so all the peoples of the Earth can be blessed, benefit, and enjoy it as we do in our daily life.
B: Water Facts, Our Economy and the Well Being of the World
Water is complex since it is linked to almost everything in the world. Water is a precondition for human existence and the sustainability of the planet.
Seventy percent of Earth is covered with water and so water is the lifeblood of our economy, for it is essential to health; social and economic development; manufacturing; energy; transport; our whole lifestyle—5,000 children die each day due to dirty water or poor hygiene, water-related diseases kill one child every 15 seconds, $1.00 invested in water/sanitation returns in $8.00 of economic growth.
The amount of water in our physical body ranges from 50-75%, depending on gender and age. According to a study published in the journal of biological chemistry, the amount of water in the human heart and brain is 73%; the lungs, 83%; muscles and kidneys, 79%; the skin, 64%; and the bones, around 31%.
The physical world of water is closely bound up with the socio-political world, often a key factor in managing risks such as famine, migration, epidemics, inequalities and political instabilities. Women play critical roles in all aspects of water governance, yet they are missing from the water dialogue.
Water is unevenly distributed around the globe: less than ten countries possess 60% of the world’s available freshwater supply. Access to a fresh water supply is still lacking for 1.8 billion and 2.5 billion people need improved sanitation. Since 1940, the world’s population has doubled, but the water use has quadrupled.
Water is essential to feed the world: 70% of the world’s water resources are required for food production; in many developing nations, irrigation uses over 90% of their water source so there is a great need for a more water-efficient irrigation technology to be developed and applied. The cup of coffee you may drink while reading this report required 140 litres of water to produce. Five hundred litres of water is needed to produce 1kg of beef.
Water is essential for agriculture and industry: agriculture is first in water consumption and industry is the second largest user of water. Every product produced on earth requires water. Water, energy, and food are intrinsically linked: water is needed to produce energy; energy is needed to deliver the water needed for food production. Valuing water means valuing our future.
God, we pray that you may help us to accept the Bible and water connection; cherish and respect and honour them both as free gifts of God given to us so that the soul, mind, and body of all the peoples of the earth can be redeemed, refreshed and nourished. In Jesus name we pray, amen.
Nettie Dueck is a WICC coucnil member. She lives in Winnipeg, MB.
Originally published in Riding the Waves, 9.3, Fall 2017.