This Sunday, I am preaching on Mark 9:38-50 which has a whole bunch of different ways that a sermon can go. This morning, interestingly enough, I read this same passage in another devotional that I use each morning (d365.org) and “The Power of Water” came to my heart as I read part of the passage…after the disciple John had been complaining that someone who wasn’t “of them” was using Jesus’ name, Jesus said:
Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
I got thinking about the power of a glass of water and what it can do. I remembered churches that would hand out cups of cold water on hot days when there was a street festival near where they were. I think of organizations like Charity:Water that work to provide clean drinking water throughout the world. I even remember what a beautiful gift of hospitality it was decades and decades ago when Wall Drug offered free cups of ice water as travelers journeyed across the Badlands of South Dakota (they still offer free ice water to people who stop by). A simple gift of water can go a long way in breaking down walls.
So, water was on my heart and mind through most of the day today. I took a picture of a water fountain, of my water bottle, and a glass of water. But nothing seemed to speak a message to me about the deeper thing that Jesus was getting at here. That was until I saw the sign that I see out in our church yard from my new office.
But there’s a long way between a simple glass of water and getting to the point where the walls of division are broken down. It is a long way to not just look at others and, like John in this passage, get upset about the fact that the other person isn’t “of us,” doesn’t speak the same language, live in the same ways, see the world the way we do, and so forth. But this way of moving forward starts with simple acts of kindness like giving someone a cup of cold water when they are parched.
There is power in the commonness of our humanity when we simply share in that way. Whether it is simply a glass of cold water on a hot day, sharing a meal together, doing a project together, and the list goes on. Right now we are pushing each other further and further away. We are working to build bigger and bigger walls (figuratively and literally). We are making ourselves more isolated. Maybe what we need to do, rather than shout at each other, troll others online, or demonize others is simply offer someone a glass of water to drink. Maybe if we do more of that, hate will stop finding places to call home.