Water Communion was originally birthed in a UU congregation in 1980 and is typically celebrated once a year in UU congregations. The below liturgy was originally written by Rev. M Barclay for a United Methodist service on Earth Day 2013 in Austin, TX and has since been adapted further.
Congregations are encouraged to share an advanced invite for participation with something like the following:
“On Sunday, ____ we are celebrating Earth Day with… and a special water communion ritual. We invite you to visit the nearest body of water to your home (even if that ends up being the kitchen sink!) and bring a small jar/glass/etc of that water along with you to church. We’ll be remembering God’s gifts of creation and the waters of our community that bind our lives together – near and far. Join us as we remember our connection to the earth, its creatures, one another, and our Creator.”
Liturgy to be used in the service with a place on or near the altar to receive the water (or the water may be placed into the font).
As a Christian community we are accustomed to regular participation in the Eucharist. In that ritual, we are given a taste of Christ’s vision of a table where all feast together, in peace, in loving relationship, and in justice. This morning we enter that vision again, from a different place in the story.
Today, we remember the beginning – where the Spirit of God hovered over the waters of Creation. Blessing water as a source of life for all the Earth, God has made us dependent on this resource.
Water reminds us of our limits – without it, our lives and communities cannot be sustained.
Water reminds us of what refreshes and renews our bodies and souls both spiritually and physically.
And water reminds us of our relationship to other creatures – animals, plants, and humans alike, all thirst. We remember that we are all connected and it is our responsibility to share this earth and its resources with all of God’s beloved creation.
This morning, as those who brought water with them come to the altar, not to receive but to offer a symbol of gratitude for all God’s gifts of creation, may we listen for God’s voice in the waters – water from [list local sources of water or ways of imaging ordinary uses of water]. The waters from all around our community unite as one again and remind us of our own connection – to the earth, to one another, and to God, our primary source of life.
Creative One, we give you thanks for the wonder and power and beauty of this earth as you created it. How lucky we are to live as a part of this whole.
We ask your blessing upon the waters brought forth by this congregation and all the bodies of water they represent. You have entrusted us to care for creation, for the earth, and for water. Forgive us for the ways we mistreat this precious resource. We acknowledge the sin of keeping access to clean water in the hands of the privileged and greedy. We acknowledge the ways we take for granted our access to water. We acknowledge we hide from our dependency on this source and other natural elements from which we are born.
Forgive us, O God, for all the ways we betray the gifts of water and its relationship to all life. As we bring our offerings from communities near and far, may we be reminded of how you weave our lives together, bodily, spiritually, relationally, ecologically. May we remember our baptism. May we remember our calling to resist evil together, to seek justice for all who thirst, and to protect people and land from corporations who threaten to steal or pollute bodies of water.
With joy and thanksgiving, we pray,
Directions spoken to the congregation about how they are invited to bring water and a word is spoken to assure visitors and others without water that they are either symbolically included or maybe you have extra bottles of water for them to participate.
Music during water communion
After all have poured their water in the communal vessel and return to their seats, music ends and all are invited to share in A time of Holy Silence (listening to the water). Either the communal vessel has a fountain element in it that allows for “gurgling” waters, or someone is selected to slowly pour their water as the closing making it intentionally loud and drawn out, or consider another creative way of drawing out the sound of moving water.
Prayer after water communion
God of all the earth, we give you thanks for the many and mysterious ways you bring life to us all. Help us to recognize your love and beauty in all of your creation – in the waters and in the soil, in animals and in the faces of our neighbors. Amen.
© enfleshed 2019