Part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), we are a family that shares a living, daring confidence in God's grace. Located in Muskego, Wisconsin, which is dotted by freshwater lakes, Bethel Lutheran Church is deeply aware of the gift of fresh water.
Water holds a sacred place in our relationship with God. In holy baptism, the triune God delivers us from the forces of evil, puts our sinful self to death, gives us new birth, adopts us as children, and makes us members of the body of Christ, the church. Water connected to the Word – God’s saving promise in Jesus Christ – is at the center of the baptismal celebration.
Water is a sign of cleansing, dying, and a new birth. It is used generously in Holy Baptism to symbolize God’s power over sin and death. God can use whatever water we have. Yet, with Martin Luther, we wish to make full use of water, when it is possible. “For baptism…signified that the old self and the sinful birth of flesh and blood are to be wholly drowned by the grace of God. We should therefore do justice to its meaning and make baptism a true and complete sign of the thing it signifies."
But globally, the water situation is dire. According to the United Nations: Eighty-five percent of the world’s population lives in the driest half of the planet. Almost 2.5 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation. 783 million people do not have access to clean water.
The United States is not immune to the lack of clean water or access to it. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Center for Environmental Information, 2012 was one of driest years in 118 years of gathering data. Droughts put stress on our water supply and the watersheds. Nearly 1 in 10 watersheds is stressed (University of Colorado).
Stewarding the Gift of Water
People require water for critical body functions like perspiration for cooling, transporting food in the blood stream and lubricating joints. All of creation depends on water for survival.
Water is needed for plant survival. Some plants may contain up to 85 percent water. Water is needed to transport nutrients, for cooling, and to assist with many biochemical reactions.
Water plays a crucial role in almost every aspect of the global economy. Farms use a large amount of water. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), “Agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water in the United States, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the Nation’s consumptive water use and over 90 percent in many Western States.”
Energy production requires significant water. Hydropower accounts for about 7 percent of the energy produced in the U.S. and 16 percent produced internationally (USGS). We are called to steward all of creation, which means protecting water. We are called by God to steward all of creation, which means protection of water. We live in a world where we have reached a lifestyle of relative economic prosperity but at tremendous resource costs. Our activities affect the water quality, which affects watersheds and, thereby, our quality of life.
You can make a difference. Click here https://search.elca.org/Pages/Results.aspx?k=Environment+and+Energy
and then on "Environmental Factsheet Clean Water" for more information.