Reflection for Easter VI & Christian Aid Sunday 9th May 2021by Canon Dean Fostekew

Easter VI & Christian Aid Week 2021 Year B

Drink a glass of tap water!

What can be better than a glass of cool, clear, Scottish water? Turn on your tap and you can usually guarantee a refreshing and health giving drink. Isn’t it amazing how two different gaseous atoms can make a liquid molecule that is so important to our lives and our well-being.

Water is a precious resource and one, we in Scotland, take for granted. As our climate ensures that we don’t usually get into drought conditions and water rationing. For Christians water is even more precious as it is the way in which we are Baptised. We are literally washed with water in the name of the Trinity and made anew. In some parts of our world, water is scarce and what there is has to go a long way. In other parts of the world there can be too much water and the devastation it can reek is just as bad as the drought its lack causes.

You will, I hope, have seen the Christian Aid literature published for this year’s Christian Aid appeal and its focus on the part that water plays in the lives of different people across the globe. Once such person is ‘Rose’ a 68 year old grandmother who is caring for her grandchildren. Rose lives in Kitui County in eastern Kenya - part of our world that has been in a climate emergency for years. Severe drought is often followed by other unpredictable changes in the weather that results in the destruction of crops, the death of livestock and a decline in the health of the population. Let alone what the Covid19 pandemic has wrought.

We in Scotland have been encouraged to regularly and to thoroughly wash our hands to help reduce the spread of the virus. Just imagine, how you would cope, if you did not have access to water at all? Or that your nearest supply is miles away and your only means of transport that you have - are your own two feet! For Rose obtaining safe water is a six hour round trip and those precious litres are shared between drinking, cooking, washing and watering her meagre crops. Rose worries that she won’t be able to keep on undertaking that daily journey for water. She says:

“Because of climate change I worry a lot about food. I pray to God that the rainfall will become normal like it used to be.”

Creation is a finely tuned process and we humans are learning to our cost that our actions do have a consequence. Climate change is a real disaster and threat to our world. But, we are not yet beyond hope and change. We can change our ways and ensure that the future and present is better for all God’s people. Christian Aid this year is not only asking us to help those in need but to fundamentally change our ways to help reverse what we have done. As the charity says:

“Even before the pandemic hit, unreliable and unpredictable rainfall made life a struggle. Today we can stand against this chaos. Together we can work with communities like Rose’s to make sure everyone has access to reliable water sources, now and in the future.”

Today’s Gospel is a call to mission, a call to love all God’s people and to put that love into positive action. We are called to ‘love our neighbours’ just as much as we are called to love God. We all need to find the ways in which we can effectively do both.

Perhaps a start might be regarding water as a sacred resource. A resource to be celebrated and used wisely and not wasted. What we can do in our homes to use water wisely will have an effect. It might seem like a drop in a bucket but many drops make an ocean. Using Creation’s gifts wisely is a missional challenge today for all of us. For in doing so we will be seeking to love our neighbours as ourselves and respecting all the good gifts that God showers upon us. This year we can partner with Christian Aid and the communities they work with to make a difference.

Every drop of rain that falls is precious and to enable it to be used to the benefit of all it needs to be collected. In Kenya, they are using earth dams to help with the situation. Earth dams are huge basins dug into the ground (a bit like a small reservoir) to collect and store rainwater. It can then be piped to taps in local communities to help people like Rose. Imagine the difference to her life and the lives of her grandchildren if Rose could access water from a tap in her village rather than trekking for three hours each way to collect water from a standpipe elsewhere. It is a relatively simple solution to Rose’s problem but an amazing gift to her community.

Where water can be managed, crops can grow, land can be farmed and soil retained so families no longer go hungry and people are stronger and better able to cope with what life and the climate throws at them. We can all help this to happen by sharing what we have with others but we also need to be cognisant to the needs of our environment and to continually ask ourselves; ‘Am I doing enough to use and re-cycle the resources of the world?’

Climate change affects all of us, not just people like Rose in Kenya. You only have to remember the droughts and flooding that occurs, all too regularly now, in parts of England. So not only today are we being asked to support the work of Christian Aid across the globe we are being challenged to change our ways and lifestyles to help reverse or stabilise the effects of Climate Change. Let it not be said of us that we heard but did not listen but that we heard and responded.

For in doing so we will be loving our neighbours as ourselves and loving God’s creation in all its wonderful and delicate nature. As the prophet Micah reminds us:

“You are to love kindness.

You are to be generous.

You are to share your resources

and share them with a smile.

You are to care for those in need.

You are to walk humbly with God.

No pretence, no bluster.

You are to pray and wonder.

You are to respect the Earth.

You are to experience and learn who God is and what God is about.

Listen up mortal.

God has told you what is good.

So do it!

Do justice.

Love kindness.

Walk humbly with your God.