Water of Life for Creations that Thirst
Professor Dr. Matthew Koshy Punnackad
The Church of South India
“To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6)
Lord, help us to honour the intrinsic value of water, the purpose of water, how it has been connected with all things in nature, and to hear the voice of water. Lord forgive us, if we have negated the divine blessing of Water. Let your heavenly blessing – the Water of Life – flow abundantly to quench the thirst of all. Amen.
Many wars of the 20th century were fought for oil. Wars of the 21st century will be fought for water. In 2016, three hundred and thirty million people, more than a quarter of India’s population, were hit by drought. High temperatures plagued almost all parts of India, with scores of deaths reported from heatstroke. This year, temperatures have risen earlier than normal, increasing concerns about the rising death toll. The whole creation has been groaning for water due to desertification, which is an irreversible process. Migration of poor people and wild animals is now common. The people of India who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change have done the least to cause it. Because climate change is a global phenomenon, we are asking developed countries to stop the morally wrong and misguided development paradigm they are following.
We think globally and act locally. Locally, we fight against those who raze the hills, destroy wetlands, and clear the forests, while ignoring the sanctity of those same hills, wetlands and forests which are the storehouses of water. We are networking with other environmental NGOs who resist development activities that disturb the rhythm of nature. Recently, we declared our solidarity with an agitation against the construction of an airport on 2.8 km2 of land. We declared that we do not need an airport by denying the basic right of water to the eighty percent of people of that area. Due to this mass agitation of the people, the government had to abandon their “development project.” In addition, we are promoting rain water harvesting in each of our parishes to preserve and enhance the groundwater table; and we are propagating a wonderful plant, Vetiver, which is a very effective means of soil and water conservation, sediment control, land stabilization and rehabilitation, and phyto-remediation.
The Holy Bible assigns attributes of divinity to water by relating it to Yahweh, God, heaven, and even Jesus himself. Innocent Jesus, who was persecuted and crucified by the people with vested economic and political interests, said, “I am thirsty.” The meaning is symbolic, but it also speaks clearly and directly. The innocent poor people of India and other living beings are suffering due to scarcity of water, which is one direct and terrible result of climate change. Like Jesus two thousand years ago, they are now saying, “We are thirsty.”
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink…” (John 7:37). Divine blessings are showered upon all creatures on this Earth, and it is the right of living beings to get the heavenly gift of water – abundantly. That is why Revelation states that “to the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life” (not only to human beings, but to all creations that thirst). The Church must resist investing in unethical human activities and unjust development paradigms. Both go against the rhythm of nature. Instead, we must collaborate with God for the redemption of nature. As we go forth in Christ, let us remember that water is a divine blessing to be treasured, to be shared with all of creation and all generations to come
Questions for Reflection
- How do you feel about water as a reason for going to war? Would you be willing to share limited water supplies, if a neighboring community had no water?
- An executive of a large multi-national corporation has said that water is a right, but not a free good. What do you think he might mean?
- Could the same principle apply to the air we breathe?
For further reading and study on conditions of ongoing drought and the water crisis in India, – as well as
responses by the church:
Earth Bible Sermons (three volumes 2015, 2016) edited by Dr. Mathew Koshy Punnackad, published by CSI & ISPCK www.ispck.org.in
Water struggle (2007) edited by V. J. John, published by Bishop’s College, Kolkata/ISPCK www.ispck.org.in