A River of Life

I never tire of Ezekiel’s vision of the river that originates in the temple, water seeping under the threshold, increasing in depth the further it flows from the sanctuary. Ankle-deep, then to the knees, up to the waist, and finally too swift for swimming. Standing at the door, who knew how far it reached?

He said to me, “Human one, do you see?” Then he led me back to the edge of the river. Ez. 47:6 (CEB)

The stream starts small. Almost insignificant. What impact could a trickle make in a desert? But I am reminded that we don’t know. How far the water flows. What springs to life from its depths. 

When I went back, I saw very many trees on both banks of the river. “Wherever the river flows, every living thing that moves will thrive. There will be great schools of fish, because when these waters enter the sea, it will be fresh. Wherever the river flows, everything will live.” Ez. 47:7,9 (CEB)

Alone in the NCF building, I’m not sure who’s listening. Musicians sing solo from home, not knowing who will hear. Tithes and offerings are mailed without seeing the shelters they support. What flows from the sanctuary is barely visible. Perhaps we too need the vision, to be led out from the building to see how far the river reaches. 

When I hear from folks around the world, touched by words or worship, I glimpse the impact far beyond us. A card from Spring Initiative shows kids I’ve never met whose lives are changed, and who will change their worlds. Miracles of salty seas made fresh, teeming with life beneath the surface. 

Their leaves won’t wither, and their fruitfulness won’t wane. They will produce fruit in every month, because their water comes from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for eating, their leaves for healing.” Ez. 47:12 (CEB)

The idea of producing fruit each month seems exhausting. Every month something new? No dormancy or off-season. Sometimes scripture serves as an inkblot, our interpretations revealing how we feel. We get tired. But the answer is right there too. Our water- our sustenance, our ability to be fruitful and to feed those around us- comes from the sanctuary. From the Holy of Holies, from worship, from the presence of God. 

So we return to the source. Back to the temple where it all began. Having glimpsed the depth of the river, the fruit for eating, and the healing in the leaves. May the vision of God’s work flowing out encourage us. Even when it only looks like a trickle. What seems small to us has a mighty impact beyond. May the miracles of the river’s reach continue in every season ahead. 

I Have a River
“The Cross and the Serpent”
3/14 Order of Service

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