Water

A Lenten reflection for March 26.

There’s an old children’s song that goes like this:

“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Then mend it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then mend it, dear Henry, dear Henry, mend it.

With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, with what?
With a straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With a straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, with a straw.”

And the song goes on like this. Henry can’t mend the bucket with the straw, because the strong is too long. Liza tells him to cut it with a knife, but Henry can’t cut the straw, because his knife is too dull. When told to sharpen the knife, Henry says that he can’t, because the sharpening stone is to dry. In order to wet it, he needs water, and the only way to get water is in the bucket, which, as we already know, has a hole in it. What a nightmare!

Water is precious. It is absolutely essential to every form of life we know exists. We need to drink fresh, clean water every day in order to survive—while we can survive a few weeks without food, we can only survive 3-5 days without water. We take it for granted that water will always be available to us. This is Three Lakes, after all, which sits on the world’s largest chain of inland lakes. Water is all around us. And look out the window—frozen water wherever you look.

In other parts of the world, however, water is scarce. While water covers 70% of our planet’s surface, only 2.5% of that water is fresh, not salt water, and able to be drunk. The collection and conservation of water is, literally, life or death. In many places, deep cisterns are dug to collect rain water and store it for use. As the world becomes more globalized and more advanced, however, access to safe drinking water is actually -dwindling-, not increasing. It is estimated that, by 2025, more than half of the world’s population will be facing a water shortage.

The prophet Jeremiah describes God as a fountain of living water, and in our Gospel reading from last Sunday, Jesus uses the same imagery when talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. God is our foundation of life, without which we cannot survive. The problem is, like poor Henry, we aren’t always good buckets that can hold the living water. We try to capture the essence of God in inferior, but flashy buckets of our own making. And when they fail, we try, on our own to repair them—we stuff the holes with more money and possessions, because that always makes us happy, or with politics, or our own sheer willpower, the American way. But the more we try to stuff the holes, the more the water seeps right through, and we are left with empty buckets once again.

Poor Henry and Liza keep trying to fix their bucket, and nothing works. I’ve always wondered why Henry and Liza just didn’t get a new bucket. Maybe it’s the only one they’ve got. But that’s not the case with God. We can exchange our “holey” buckets for “holy” ones, recognizing our need for God to quench our thirst and drinking sweetly of the living water.

It’s time to turn in your buckets, and drink.

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Author: Pastor Ken

Ken Ranos serves as the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Three Lakes, WI, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

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