Water is one of the most basic symbols of the Christian faith. It is through the waters of baptism that we are initiated into Christ's holy church. The ritual of baptism included in the United Methodist Hymnal lists a variety of other times when water is an important biblical symbol: Noah, the crossing of the Red Sea, the crossing of the Jordan, etc. Yet many Christians in the United States don't give water much thought. Sure, we will notice if it's raining, and if there's a flood or a drought, we'll notice. But we don't give much thought to the water we use in our daily lives. We turn on the tap, and clean, drinkable water is there. We don't need to give it a second thought. We have so much drinkable water, we even bathe in it.
That's not true for many in the world. This simple fluid which is so important spiritually and so overlooked daily for American Christians is a real item of concern for vast populations. Globally, 780 million people lack access to clean water, and 3.4 million per year die from water-related diseases (Source: http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/).
That's why the United Nations declared March 22nd World Water Day. The event has been going on since 1993, though it has yet to gain the popularity in the US that Earth Day or even Arbor Day has, perhaps because water is seen as a problem "over there," while trees and the rest of the ecosystem are "here" as well. Nevertheless, World Water Day has worked to increase awareness of the lack of access to water and the need to conserve water and use it wisely.
The UMC is playing its part in this global social issue as well. In advance of World Water Day, UMCOR released a list of recommendations of "Five Ways to Make Water Last," and UMCOR has an Advance number dedicated to water and sanitation projects. The projects supported by this Advance number include wells, education, and sanitation initiatives. Consider what you will do this Saturday to be part of this form of service to the world and the world's poor.