Dear Friends in Christ,
I hope you have had a great summer! One of our sons and his wife are on an eight-month assignment in Switzerland; Adrian and I enjoyed a visit with them this summer. One of my highlights from our time in the city of Basel was swimming in the River Rhine.
The Rhine runs right through the center of Basel. One side of the river has the shipping channel that is used by huge tankers and leisure boats with people fishing along river bank. At various intervals crossing the river are small passenger ferry boats and several arched bridges. And on the other side of the river, there are the swimmers who put in at one end of the city and float a mile or so downriver bobbing up and down in the wake of the tankers and speed boats, dodging the ferries, avoiding the bridge pillars and staying on the correct side of the buoys. Almost all the swimmers put their towel, clothes and valuables in a fish-shaped waterproof bag (wickelfisch), which doubles as a flotation device. Getting into the river, you must be careful not to slip, and when you come to the end of the allowed swimming area you need to fight the fast current to get out. But for fifteen minutes as you float downstream, the views of the picturesque old town are stunning.
As I reflected on that experience, I realized that the river was teeming with life, supplying and nourishing the city and its residents in so many ways. The Bible is full of water images and metaphors including talking about the “river of life” as eternal life flowing from God (Revelation 22:1-2) and “living water” that Jesus offers us through grace and forgiveness (John 4:10-14). Water was a scarce resource in Canaan and rain after months of blue skies was considered a blessing that comes from God. Just as we need clean water to drink and survive, we need spiritual water for our souls and Jesus is the perfect source of that water.
My time floating down the river nourished my soul, but eating ice cream on the shoreline, walking across the bridge, taking the ferry, and hiking along the bank each brought their own blessings. There are many ways for us to experience the living water that brings life. What are you eating and drinking, what steps are you taking, and when are you going fishing, or are you going to dive in? At Sierra Pines, we go deeper in discipleship by demonstrating radical hospitality (pages 1 & 7, 9, & 10) and through passionate worship (pages 3 & 4), intentional faith development (page 5), risk-taking mission and service (pages 1, 5 &10) and extravagant generosity (page 4).
There are dangers in the river, but the view is fantastic! Come on in!
— Pastor Joan