June 2015

Post date: May 28, 2015 6:45:56 PM

Dear People of God,

I would like to share a few more thoughts with you from our E.WA/ID Synod assembly, which took place April 24-26 in Pasco. Our theme was “Like a Watered Garden”. Isaiah 58:11 says, “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.” We focused on baptism and the importance of water for all of life. One of our speakers, Dr. Ben Stewart, who served as pastor at Holden Village some years ago, reminded us of some thoughts on water by the reformer, Martin Luther. 1) God created me together with all creatures. 2) All creatures depend on water. 3) Water baptism places us in solidarity with the earth and in reciprocity with all creatures.

I enjoyed a workshop on “First Foods” by Eric Quaempts, a very educated Native American man who lives on the Umatilla reservation near Pendleton and is a Dept. of Natural Resources director. Reciprocity with all creatures is something that Quaempts emphasized as well. In Native American creation stories, the animals promised to take care of the humans and the humans also promised to take care of the animals. “First Foods” for the people on the Umatilla reservation are, in this order, #1-water #2-salmon(Chinook, Coho, lamprey, eel) #3-deer (Mule deer, elk) #4-Cous (bitterroot, celery, camas) #5-berries (huckleberries, chokecherries). Quaempts called this “the Atkins diet before Atkins,” since it is high protein, low fat and all natural foods. He stressed that water flows through all of these foods. When his people have feasts, water is always the first and the last thing consumed by all the people. His people have feasts to celebrate when these foods become available for harvest. The foods are always brought out to the people in the same order and ceremoniously placed on the tables in the same arrangement and certain songs are sung by the drummers with each food. Does that sound like something we do during worship?

Quaempts also talked about restoring Meacham Creek. (I felt kind of stupid, since I drove over Meacham pass on I-84 for 10 years while in Eastern Oregon and never even knew there was a Meacham Creek.) The creek had been channeled into a fast moving culvert by the railroad. Without endangering the railroad tracks, Native American people were able to restore Meacham Creek to a slow moving and living stream once again. As water slows down it meanders more and restores plants and habitat for creatures. Slower moving water also goes underground at times and cools down, so that when it resurfaces, it makes better habitat for fish. Water. If we help take care of water, water takes care of us and all creatures. It’s been a dry winter and spring and water rationing is already in effect in our valley for farmers. We pray for all farmers and all who work the land this year. All crops and all foods, of course, depend on water. However, we just had some wonderful rains on May 11,12&13. We pray for more timely rains over the summer. Certainly we all can do our part to conserve water. If we help take care of water, water takes care of us and all creatures. Reciprocity with nature: it’s a win/win.

Peace in Christ, Pastor Dennis