Ecumenical Water Network

The EWN is a network of churches and Christian organizations promoting people's access to water around the world

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Week 7: Passion and betrayal

Jesus... laid aside his garments and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples\' feet...
John 13.4-5

When Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing... he took water and washed his hands before the crowd saying, \"I am innocent of this man\'s blood, see to it yourselves.\"
Matt 27.24

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.
John 19.34

Water as a symbol of passion, commitment and betrayal...

There is beautiful simplicity and dedication in Jesus pouring water into a bowl and kneeling to wash his disciples\' feet. His passion and cross are not far away, yet he takes time to care for his friends in this intimate, passionate, gentle way.

Jesus washes their feet as a sign of commitment and service to them, and also to prepare them for the difficult path they will have to tread once he is no longer with them. From now on every time they wash one another\'s feet, every time they serve others sacrificially in the world they will remember him cleansing and cooling their aching feet and pains with water, their master kneeling before them in humility.

On Maundy Thursday during Holy Week, many churches remember Christ carrying water in a bowl to each of his disciples and cleaning their feet. In remembrance of that profound act of caring and service we also seek to follow Christ today as we care, heal and serve.

In contrast Pilate seeks absolution from guilt for Jesus\' crucifixion with his very public ablutions. To wash one\'s hands of a problem, is to not take responsibility, this water is a sign of betrayal.

Jesus\' first miracle in John\'s gospel is to turn water into wine. Dead on the cross, water and blood pour from his side when it is pierced by the soldier\'s spear. This water is a sign of the body\'s agony and breakdown in death and more deeply of Christ\'s humanity and life offered up. Later risen
from the dead he will call his disciples to conquer the deep and make a miraculous catch of fish from the waters.

As we meditate Christ\'s passion we reflect on our own service of others. We also seek to understand and enter into the suffering of so many in our world whose right to be human is being undermined by their daily struggle for access to clean water.
So are we going to follow Christ and take up the cloth and the bowl or follow Pilate and wash our hands?

Together we can make a difference

  • Wash your hands and think
    Everytime you wash your hands this week remember to take responsibility for talking about water as a basic resource everyone has the right to.
  • Get passionate about water
    Find out what\'s going on near you for World Water Day and get involved with others in local, national and international water campaigns.
  • A spiritual exercise for Holy Saturday
    World Water Day falls this year on Holy Saturday(, it\'s called still or silent Saturday in some traditions. Perhaps on that silent day as we wait for the joy of the resurrection to break through we can imagine or listen to the sound of water dripping, marking time. Imagine just how precious each drop is, how life-giving, how essential. Reflect also that Jesus promised to be a source of living waters to the woman at the well.
    Maybe you can make recordings or podcasts of a baby being bathed or of water being poured or of a fountain gurgling.
    The sound of water reminds us of God\'s promise of plenty; silence can remind us how little just sharing there is of this resource that is essential for life.
Posted By: Ecumenical Water Network on Mar 17, 2008 03:51PM