I was privileged be one of the staff representing the School at the Anglican Schools Australia conference in Adelaide last week. The theme of the conference was “Rivers in the Desert,” and the verse above from the Book of Isaiah brought meaning to the theme. 

Speakers and leaders at the conference spoke of the importance of water in the largest, driest continent in the world, Australia. We were reminded of the scarcity of the resource and therefore of the importance of managing it for the present and for future generations. A very strong message was that water is the source of life and indeed, in many situations, it does not take much water to bring new life to the environment.

The Keynote Speakers expanded upon this theme on educational, environmental, cultural, and social levels. One speaker spoke of the challenges involved in introducing young people to the “pleasure the rigour of complex thinking.” She suggested that just as we cannot make all horses drink, so too there are real challenges in requiring and enabling all students to think. Another speaker spoke of the relationship between God and the world of animals, plants, mountains, rivers and seas, continuing the theme of Rivers in the Desert. Lt General David Morrison (Retd) who was a three-star general and Chief of Army, challenged schools to consider whether they are challenging students to be “…the best we can be” in a society of immense cultural diversity through being inclusive of colour, gender and faith. Michelle Campbell, a Local Engagement Officer in the Commonwealth Environment Water Office in Adelaide suggested that being the driest continent in the world, Australia had no choice but to be world leaders in water reform. Michelle drew very close analogies to the fact that we also have to draw close to the spiritual waters of faith and to manage them well. In the same way that relationships are important between people and the environment as well as between people in managing the environment, so too the relationship between people and God is central to sustaining our faith life. The spiritual waters of God sustain us and enable us to flourish in life. As we do that and care for the environment, the final speaker spoke of how this care can be worked out at a practical level as she told us about the “Walk for Life” programme in Bangladesh. She spoke of her research in, and the work of Walk for Life in and around the issues of paediatric flat foot and paediatric club foot. She spoke of how a relatively small effort by a relatively small group of people can have a huge impact in improving the life of sufferers of this condition amongst the poor and destitute people of Bangladesh.

These speakers and the theme of the conference caused me to reflect on the fact that God has dominion over everything that is. He has asked us to care for his creation, and in the context of education, to care for the most precious resource of all, the child entrusted to our care. This is a significant challenge in the modern context of rampant commercialism and egocentric living on the part of many power people in the world.

At a personal level, God has gifted us with life and the opportunity of faith in God. This is indeed a wonderful gift. Water is a central theme in the Bible and is common in the Book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 55, God speaks to us through the prophet as he says:

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.”
(Isaiah 55 – English Standard Version)

As we accept this invitation, the verses from Isaiah used as the theme of the conference suggest that God will work in our lives:

“I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.”

(Isaiah 43:19 – NRSV)

May we all drink deeply of the waters of God’s Spirit so that our lives may be nourished and cause us to flourish and live life abundantly!

God bless
Reverend Dave