Drink from the Well of Living Water
A 40-Day Calendar for Lent
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Those of us who live in abundance often take water for granted: We turn on the faucet and out it pours. How easily we forget that water is a precious gift from God to all people. How easily we forget the needy whom Jesus, the giver of "living water," came to serve.
The average North American consumes 1,800 gallons of water a day through personal use and indirect agricultural and industrial use. The ways we use water in developed countries - mining, industry, agriculture, etc. - often cause our water to become polluted, decreasing the amount of clean, pure water available to us and to others. We even send our industries and wastes to nearby countries, contaminating their water. We continue to pollute water to support our consumptive lifestyles.
On the other hand, most people in developing countries use less than 12 gallons a day. Much of the water they use can cause illness and even death. Due to poor sanitation, lack of development and the pollution caused by transnational corporations, water in developing countries is often not suitable for drinking, cooking or bathing.
This calendar will lead you into a deeper understanding of water and its sacredness. As we prepare for the celebration of Easter, we can learn to drink from the well of God's living water and can become better stewards of water in our homes, communities and world.
Use this calendar during the forty days of Lent, beginning Ash Wednesday and ending Easter Sunday. Be prepared to read various Scripture passages in addition to the regular lectionary readings. Place the calendar on your refrigerator or a bulletin board where it is clearly visible to all those who wish to participate.
As you use this calendar, you will be encouraged to think about different water issues. Some of the activities offer you ways to collect money to help those with greater needs. To hold the money you collect during Lent, you can make a money bank out of an empty coffee can or other container. Once the forty days are up, you can give the money to an organization that works to provide adequate clean water, better sanitation and proper waste control and disposal. Check with your church, your denominational hunger agency or environmental organizations for names of possible groups.
1. Our water is both precious and finite. While water covers 3/4 of the earth's surface, 97.4% is salt water; 1.8% is frozen; only 0.8% is fresh water. Pray, thanking God for water, a resource vital for all life.
2. List all of the ways you use water in your day-to-day activities: bathing, drinking, washing clothes, etc. Give 10¢ for each.
3. Fresh water is a quiet and continuous miracle: water is carried by the heat of the sun from the ocean and plant life up to the sky; precipitation sends the water back to the ground. Remember a time when rain or snow soothed your spirit.
4. Read Matthew 4: 1-11. How are the forty days of Lent similar to Jesus' forty days in the desert?
First Sunday in Lent
5. Some 1.2 billion people lack water that is safe to drink. Give 20¢ for every water tap in your house.
6. A 1983 EPA nationwide study found trace levels of toxic synthetic chemicals in nearly 30% of the municipal water supplies it tested. Call or write your local water company to find out more about the quality of your water.
7. People can survive for up to two months without food, but die within three days without water. Pray for the strength to see beyond your own needs to the needs of those who do not have enough food or clean water.
8. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of all sickness and disease in the world is attributable to inadequate water or sanitation. Support groups that work to provide clean water throughout the world.
9. It takes about 3 gallons of water to flush the toilet. It takes about 5 gallons per minute to shower. Order a low-flow showerhead and toilet dam from Co-op America (www.CoopAmerica.org) or call your local water company for other ideas.
10. Read Genesis 1: 9-10. How do you care for God's creation, especially water?
Second Sunday in Lent
11. If you have a water meter, read it at the beginning of the day. Read it again just before you go to bed. Give 1¢ for every gallon you use.
12. It takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce one pound of aluminum. Recycle your aluminum cans.
13. There is no such thing as water that has never been used before. The water you drink today may contain a water molecule that a dinosaur once drank. Pray for wisdom and courage to practice good stewardship of the water both you and others will use tomorrow.
14. Write about or discuss an experience you had when water was a source of joy - running through the sprinkler, a vacation at the seaside, etc.
15. Each year 200,000 tons of oil enter the ocean through accidental loss and seepage. Decrease your use of oil. Give 5¢ for every mile you drive today. Better yet, take public transportation if available.
16. Read John 4:5-26. What does "living water" mean to you?
Third Sunday in Lent
17. Think of various places in the Bible that talk about water. Make a list of biblical images and symbols related to water.
18. The average resident of Phoenix, Arizona uses 160 gallons of water a day for drinking, bathing, washing dishes and clothes, etc. A person living in a semi-arid region of Africa uses four-fifths of a gallon a day. Give 1¢ for every plate, glass, utensil, etc. you wash today.
19. Some Native Americans of the Yakima Nation give thanks for water at each meal. Both before and after eating, someone pours water into each person's cup and everyone drinks. Perform a water ceremony like this one at dinner.
20. Our bodies are 70% water. Figure out what 70% of your weight is. Give 1¢ for each pound.
21. Typical outdoor watering uses 10 gallons of water per minute. Do you live in an area with water restrictions? Collect rain water in a rain barrel to water indoor and outdoor plants.
22. Read Psalm 65: 9-13 silently. Read it a second time out loud.
Fourth Sunday in Lent
23. It takes about 280 gallons of water to produce a large Sunday paper. Recycle your newspapers.
24. Women from one village in Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, walk 2-3 hours a day to find a river or stagnant pond so that their families have water to drink. Give 5¢ for every glass of water you drink today.
25. Many U.S. assembly plants in developing countries dump toxic waste in remote areas or simply flush wastes down the drain. Do you know where the items you buy are made? Pray for the vision to understand how your lifestyle choices affect other people.
26. 83% of all marine pollution is derived from land-based activities such as fertilizing crops and mining ores. Limit the pesticides and fertilizers you use on your lawn and garden this spring.
27. Copper mining operations along Silver Bow Creek and Clark Fork River in Montana are poisoning local brooks and streams. Copper is mainly used as an electrical conductor. Give 5¢ for every electrical outlet in your home.
28. Read Exodus 17: 2-7. How can God satisfy your physical and spiritual thirst?
Fifth Sunday in Lent
29. If you brush your teeth with the tap running, you may use as much as 10 gallons of water. Turn off the water while brushing and save as much as 9 1/2 gallons.
30. The population of Third World cities, now doubling every 10-15 years, overwhelm governments' attempts to provide clean water and sewage treatment. Give 10¢ every time you flush the toilet today.
31. It takes 150 gallons of water to produce one loaf of bread. Pray for those who must go without bread tonight.
32. Agriculture accounts for 70% of total global fresh water use. Give 25¢ for every meal you eat today.
33. It takes 40 gallons of water to produce one egg. If you decorate eggs, decorate only those eggs you will use. Give 10¢ for every egg you color.
34. Read Isaiah 41: 17-18. How can you help to satisfy the thirst of the needy?
Sixth Sunday in Lent
35. Organize a group to adopt a nearby stream or river. For ideas to get started, contact Save Our Streams (SOS), Izaak Walton League, 1401 Wilson Blvd., Level B, Arlington, VA 22209; (703) 528-1818.
36. Acid rain and snowfall have wiped out all the fish and many plants in 50% of the high mountain lakes in the Adirondack Mountains. Remember a time you went fishing.
37. If clean water were readily available, the worldwide infant mortality rate could be cut in half. Pray that all people might have clean water.
38. Organize a small group and have a feet washing ceremony today.
39. It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef for your table. Plan meals without meat today.
40. Read John 13: 12-15. Consider ways you can serve others.
Pray for the strength to be good stewards of water and all God's creation. Thank God for new life!
Facts: Water, by the Office on Global Education, National Council of Churches
Friends of the Earth, Vol. 21 No. 4, September, 1991
The Global Factory, by American Friends Service Committee
State of the World, 1992, by Lester Brown
Voices: Native American Hymns and Worship Resources, by Marilyn Hofstra
Water: Rethinking Management in an Age of Scarcity (Worldwatch Paper 62)
Water for Life Fact Sheet, Church World Service
Wet N'Wonderful Water Packet, Church World Service
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