The Life and Work of Our Church
Please remember in your prayers this week all those named in our prayer jar.
Our fall Bible Study is meeting on Wednesday morning at 10 am. Due to numbers, we have had to switch from the parlour to the chapel. We will still be offering Zoom access and we are still asking that you contact Rev. Sharon if you plan on attending in person. Those gathering in person will be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Rev. Sharon is still looking for more baby pictures! We have not yet received enough picture to proceed with this fundraiser. If you have a picture of yourself as a baby that you are willing to share, you can either send it to Sharon by email at email@example.com or drop off the original pictures to the office. Original pictures will be scanned and then returned. Please make sure your name is on the back of the picture.
The Beacon Community Garden Council is looking for donations of spring bulbs for the central cross in the Community Garden. If you have tulip, daffodil, crocus, or hyacinth bulbs (including grape hyacinth) that you would be willing to donate please speak to any member of the Garden Council.
Beacon Church Council will meet tonight at 7 pm by Zoom. This is an open meeting and all are welcome. Zoom information will be sent this afternoon.
Lighting the Christ Candle
As we light our Christ Candle this morning, let us remember that its light is not to one space or one gathering. The light of Christ is with us everywhere. So as we light our candle this morning, let us remember that we have been called and challenged to not only recognize Christ’s light wherever it shines but to take that light out with us wherever we go.
Acknowledgment of Territory
Wherever we are in this wonderful province of Nova Scotia, we are reminded that we still gather on lands that are, by law, the unseeded territories of the Mi’kmaq people. We gratefully and respectfully acknowledge this. We also respectfully honour their traditions and spirituality along with the spirituality and traditions of the Métis people with whom we also share this land.
Call to Worship
Like last week’s today’s Call to Worship is adapted from material written by Katherine Hawker
Soft summer rain falling down upon the parched earth, renewing it.
Gentle Spirit of God, renewing us.
Sustained drenching rains, changing landscapes.
Challenging Spirit of God, changing us.
Torrential floodwaters washing away all in its path
Powerful Spirit of God, compelling us forward.
Slow soaking rains, nourishing the seed.
Ever-present Spirit of God, nourishing, replenishing, and sustaining us.
We gather here to worship the wondrous Spirt of God that renews, challenges, changes, compels, nourishes, replenishes, and sustains us.
Our Opening Prayer this morning comes from the National Council of Churches Earth Day 2003 resource called, “Waters of Life: Enough for All.” Written by Rev. John Paarlberg.
Let us pray;
Creator God, whose Spirit moves over the face of the waters,
who gathers the seas into their places and directs the courses of the rivers,
who sends rain upon the earth that it should bring forth life:
we praise you for the gift of water.
Sustaining God, create in us such a sense of wonder and delight in this and all your gifts, that we might receive them with gratitude, care for them with love, and generously share them with all your creatures, to the honor and glory of your holy name. Amen
Nature is Speaking – Water
Water is something that we in Canada tend to take for granted. It is plentiful, for the most part clean, and easily accessible. The same is not true in many parts of the world and it certainly wasn’t true for the Israelite people as they wandered through the desert. Our first reading this morning tells of a time when the people were very much afraid that they would die of thirst as they followed Moses out of Egypt and into the wilderness. Reading from Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 65 is a psalm of praise and adoration for all that God provides. But at the base of all of it, is water. “You show your care for the land by sending rain” “You fill the streams with water” “you send abundant rain on the plowed fields and soak them with water; you soften the soil with showers and cause the young plants to grow.”
Given the dry, desert-like surroundings in which most of the bible was written, is it any wonder that the vision of “heaven”, the vision of the divine “City of God” is a vision of a city abundant in water where “the river of the water of life” flows through the middle? Reading from Revelation 22:1-5
When we think of images of water in the bible one of the strongest images is the “life-giving water” promised by Jesus. That promise is found in the Gospel According to John in the story we know as the woman at the well. Reading from John 4:5-15
Water – Source of Life
From start to finish in our Bible freshwater bubbles, gushes, gurgles, flows, floods, rains, and sometimes suddenly dries up. Then it pours out from God’s goodness all over again, to nurture, sustain, wash, cleanse, baptize, heal, and sometimes tempest-toss, the heroes and heroines of the biblical story. Clean drinking water is closely linked to God’s blessing throughout the Bible.
Life on this planet is a self-sustaining process: life and the diversity thereof maintains life. Everything is inter-related. If one component of life is destroyed, the other parts come under increasing pressure. The more we destroy biodiversity, the more we threaten a sustainable future.
Perhaps the most essential part of life is, of course, water. Were it not for water, there would be no life on this planet and we know it. Water plays an essential part in both the creation stories. In Genesis 1 we hear “the earth was formless and void, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”. In Genesis 2 we read, “Streams come up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.”
Earth is the only planet in our solar system where water is found in all three states: solid, liquid, and gas. It is the only planet where water is found in a drinkable form as a liquid. Water is essential to all forms of life on earth. We recognize the sacredness of water as a gift from God. We know it is essential for life and that all the plants and animals are dependent on water. We know therefore that all living beings have a right to water.
The World Health Organization estimates that 1.1 billion people, approximately 20% of the global population, live without adequate water and more than 5 million people die each year from lack of water or from water-borne diseases. As Christians therefore we should view with the utmost concern the commodification of water, treating it as a something to be owned and sold for a profit. Nowhere should people ever be denied the right to adequate water because they cannot pay for it. Nowhere should people profit from water through denying others access to it. And there is the often neglected aspect of all of this, that for the rest of living creation, survival is being threatened not only by the loss of habitat but by being denied access to life-giving water. All of life must be taken into consideration because biodiversity is essential for the ongoing sustainability of life.
Yet all too often we do not place much value on this all-important source of life. It is important that we do value it because without placing a value on water, we continue to abuse, misuse, pollute and waste this essence of life. It is therefore fundamentally important that access to adequate clean water to meet the basic needs of life be considered a right, and that industry and agri-business which use large quantities of water not be given precedent over the needs of individual people or the rest of God’s living creation.
Water is not a privilege for the wealthy. It is a right for all. Governments everywhere should be responsible to insure adequate quantity and quality of water, and we, as the people represented by these governments must insist that the call to ensure safe and adequate water for all be taken seriously.
At this critical time in our world climate change is undermining the balance of nature. It is also undermines food security and the very survival of many small scale farmers, especially in parts of the developing world. Our life support system – our water, our air and our soil – are being threatened. The call to share the resources our planet provides, especially the abundant life-giving resource of waters, with which we are blessed, is a matter of justice.
So how much water do you think you use in an average day? Canadians currently use an average of 329 litres of water per person, per day — second only to the United States which uses approximately 590 liters. This is more than twice what most Europeans use, and almost 30 times as much as Mali where the average person uses only 11.35 liters per day. And usage is not uniform across Canada. Interestingly Newfoundland and Labrador uses the most at 395 liters, closely followed by New Brunswick, Quebec and British Columbia. Nova Scotia, although it is below the average at 292 liters, is next, followed by Saskatchewan, Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba with PEI using the least at 189 liters per person per day.
Unfortunately I could not find the statistics on how much water is used by those living in First Nations communities. What I can tell you is that of approximately 630 First Nations communities in Canada, at least 400 have experienced one or more water advisories since 2014. At present there are at least 61 long-term water advisories in effect in First Nations communities, down from 149 in 2014.
A water advisory is considered long-term when it has been in effect for more than a year. As of last month as well as the 60 some long-term advisories there were also 37 short-term advisories in place and 4 that were switched from short-term to long-term. In a country as rich with sources of renewable fresh water as Canada, this is a national disgrace. We have enough water, but its distribution is far from equitable. Anyone in this part of the province who has had to deal with wells running dry during the hot, dry summers we have had over the past few years understands the difficulty and stress of not having sufficient, clean, usable water. Imagine having to live that way for years on end with no hope that autumn rains or winter snows will refill the well.
And domestic water use is only part of the picture. When we include industrial and agricultural use, the statistics on the amount of water we use in Canada is even more shocking. In Canada, the daily per capita use of water including all water usage is 2,717 liters per person per day. In the US it is 3,794. Most European countries use less than half as much. In France they use 1,244 liters per day, in Germany 855 liters, and in Ireland only 461 liters per capita, per day.
In Africa where industry and commercial agriculture tend to be less, water consumption is very low. In Uganda the per capita water use per day is on 57 liters and in Congo it is 38. That means that the US uses almost 100 times as much water per capita, per day as the Congo. And Canada is close behind!
So what is the breakdown of all this water use? In Canada, 68% of water usage is industrial, 20% is domestic and 12% is agricultural. Of the domestic water used, only 10% of is used for drinking and meal preparation. 5% is used for general cleaning, 20% for laundry, 30% to flush your toilet, and 35% for bathing. Add to this the water wasted by dripping taps or leaking pipes and the total amount of water we use each day is astonishing. Did you know that a tap that drips 6 drops per minute wastes 1,200 liters of water per year? That is more water than is used in Congo in an entire month.
And despite the way we act and what we may think, renewable fresh water is not an unlimited resource. Between 1962 and 2014 the amount of renewable freshwater per capita available within Canada dropped from 153,111 cubic meters to 80,201 cubic meters. That is a decrease of 48%. France and Germany have decreased by a far smaller percentage, but both began with far less freshwater sources available. Congo on the other hand has lost 78% of its renewable freshwater resources going from 203,242 cubic meters per capita down to 45,575. Uganda which began with only 5,387 cubic meters lost 81% of its renewable freshwater resources and in 2014 had only 1,004 cubic meters per capita left.
So how far can this loss of renewable freshwater go? Well, United Arab Emirates lost 99% of its renewable freshwater resources between 1962 and 2014, leaving it with only 16.5 cubic meter per capita. And in case you are wondering who has the most and who has the least water available to their residents, Greenland has 10.66 million cubic meter of renewable freshwater resources per person, while Kuwait has none.
If these statistics don’t frighten or at least concern you, there is something seriously wrong. Water is the very life-blood of this finite planet we call home and we are using, abusing, contaminating and polluting it at record levels. As more and more of our valuable life-blood becomes contaminated, more and more money will have to be spent on processing and purifying this valuable resource and those doing the processing and purifying will have more and more control over who has access.
Over and over we are reminded throughout our scriptures that water is a gift from God. We also know that water is essential to life, and not just for our life, but for all life on this planet. God has given us this amazing gift. Perhaps it is time we started treating it with the respect, the care and the reverence that it deserves.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “When the well is dry – we know the worth of water”. I pray that we do not wait until the well is dry to appreciate God’s gift of water … God’s gift of life. Amen
The Gift of Music For This Great Sun Kissed Land ~ Norman Habel 1991
For this great sun kissed land
We join in celebration,
With all its native life,
The joy of God’s creation;
Fresh lakes and oceans deep
Who raise their voice on high,
For gulls that sweep with grace
Across the morning sky.
Now thank we God, this day
For all who shared their vision,
Of this inheritance
A gift from God’s deep passion.
O God of this wide land,
Grant us the faith to see,
You fill our souls with song,
A sacred mystery.
With this great sun kissed land
We join in celebration,
With elk and buffalo
People of every nation;
Custodians God chose
For sea and river long
To join with grateful voice
And sing Earth’s sacred song.
Prayer of Blessing (Gifts and Prayer Jar)
Let us take a moment to remember all the gifts that have blessed and enriched our lives and to think about the ways that we can use those gifts to enrich the lives of others …
Let us pray;
Source of Life, Spring of Riches, you have blessed us with so much. Accept the gifts we offer to you, gifts not only of what we have, but gifts of who we are, given in love and gratitude. Amen.
And now let us take a moment now to offer our silent prayers for all those named in our prayer jar and all those in our thoughts, our minds and our hearts … Amen.
Minute for Mission
Prayers of Gratitude and Concern
Divine Creator, as we come before you in prayer, we offer you our thanks for water. We thank you for the smooth cleanness of the water that runs from our taps, water that is safe for drinking, water that is plentiful and always there when we need it or when we want it, water that continues to flow freely. We thank you for beautiful blue of lakes, for the murmuring of streams, for the rushing of rivers, for the richness of the fresh water resources so plentiful in our beautiful country. We thank you for the deep blue and changeable moods of the oceans, filled with your creatures that provide food and employment for so many in our area, for the tides that wash across our shorelines constantly shaping and reshaping the boundary between land and sea. We thank you for water that falls from the skies, water that nourishes on gardens and crops, fuelling green growth and providing food for the world. We thank you for water that is strictly for fun; for swimming and wading pools filled with laughing children and for sprinklers making sunshine rainbows on the hottest of days.
Water is so ever present for us, so powerful and life-giving, that there are times we almost forget that it is a gift from you. Today we pray for dry places in the world; for lands where people walk long distances for water, where weather patterns have changed, and people wait desperately for rain. We pray for those whose water has been contaminated by the carelessness and thoughtless self-interests of mining, forestry, industry or industrial agriculture. We pray for those in First Nations communities who are denied safe drinking water because of the expense of providing this essential service. We pray for those everywhere whose poverty means they cannot afford to buy drinkable water. And we pray for countries like Israel and Palestine where access to water becomes a political weapon of oppression.
Lord, give us a thirst for righteousness and justice! Help us work for peace in our world, for there is so much water and yet so many are thirsty. Let our voices be heard in the halls of government, through the channels of diplomacy, and in the spheres of corporate influence as we demand access to your life-giving gift of water for all people everywhere.
As we come before you today, we seek to feel your living water wash over us, to feel ourselves filled with the life-giving Spirit you offer. And so we offer our personal prayers for people who are sick, who need your spirit of healing to flow into their lives. We pray for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. Comfort them with the vision of your eternal streams of grace. We pray for those who have given up hope; fill them with new vision. We pray for those who are lonely; quench their thirst with new assurance and new possibilities. We pray for those who can find no love in their hearts; flow over them and within them until your love fills them so completely that it flows out to others.
Source of all that is, forgive us when our own lives become parched wastelands where we think only of ourselves, and spare no thoughts for those around us. Bubble up within us, refreshing and enlivening even the driest and most barren places in our lives. Source of all that is, we offer you this prayer in the name of Christ, who is the Living Water for given for all. Amen.
The Gift of Music Song of the Waters ~ Norman Havel 2001
Watch once more the windswept storm clouds;
Suddenly the sky has wings!
God has come to rain among us,
Giving hope to all dry things.
Sing a song of splashing waters,
Pulsing through the veins of Earth
Taste the moisture of the morning,
Smoother than the best red wine;
Toast the lifeblood of the planet:
Here’s to God’s wild wet design!
Sing a song of flowing waters,
Pulsing through the veins of Earth
View anew the dark blue ocean,
Whales cavorting, spraying foam;
God at play with deep sea creatures,
Feeling very much at home.
Sing a song of laughing waters,
Pulsing through the veins of Earth
Feel the breath of God move softly,
Gentle mists that brush the skin;
Earth is breathing God’s own Spirit,
Life renewed from deep within.
Sing a song of living waters,
Pulsing through the veins of Earth
Like a stream that is fed by an underground spring, we have been fed in this time of worship. Like a stream flowing out to water parched land, we are called to go out from here and spread the gift of love and hope wherever we go. Like a stream that cannot exist if its headwaters dry up, we are reminded that we depend on the one who feed, nurtures and provides for us. And so as we go out from here let us remember that the source of life, the source of all that is goes with us. Amen