The Theology of Water
The biblical imagery of water is best summarized by the formula for the blessing of the water for baptism: “At the dawn of creation your Spirit breathed on the waters, making them the wellspring of all holiness. The waters of the great flood You made the sign of the waters of baptism that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness. Through the waters of the Red Sea, you led Israel out of slavery to be an image of God’s holy people, set free from sin by baptism. In the waters of the Jordan, You Son was baptized by John and anointed with the Spirit. Your Son willed that water and blood should flow from His side as he hung upon the cross…”
The Old Testament thirst for the living water comes to fulfillment with the coming of Christ, the Messiah. In Christ, as St Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.” In our gospel today, Jesus refers to this outpouring of God’s love as He tells the Samaritan woman at the Jacob’s well in Sychar: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give then will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
As Jesus said to her in a friendly and gentle tone: “Give me a drink!” The Samaritan woman sensed, deep down in her heart that something broken was beginning to mend. For the first time in her life, she discovered through Jesus what she had always secretly thirsted for: living water gushing up to eternal life.
As we gather to worship, we begin by touching the water from font. This ordinary element of nature has transformed us into God’s people. Baptism with water becomes the sacrament of our redemption. Making the sign of the cross with the water reminds us of our common stature as God’s children. Whenever we touch the water, we recognize the truth that we have been restore into God’s image and likeness, that we proclaim one faith, that we believe one Lord and that we are one people.
This season of Lent actually speaks of this thirst of the human spirit. Lent is a journey of the soul through the desert into the living water of Christ’s resurrection.