Ezekiel saw a vision of water flowing from the temple into the surrounding area. It poured off the the altar and at first it barely wet the ground, but as it continued to flow it became waist deep and then flooded the whole culture. It brought life and healing to everything around.
This vision speaks to the church’s mission, our mission. It is Worship that is to overflow from our church and pour into the lives of the people all around us. Picture your Sunday morning worship overflowing with love and power into the communities where you live, everywhere within reach. Picture it like water carrying the life-changing grace of Christ. Then realize that the church is you and me. Worship changes everything, and worship is everything.
The River of Healing
1 In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. 2 The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.
3 Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet[a] and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. 4 He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. 5 Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.
6 He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. 7 When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. 8 Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea.[b] The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. 9 There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean.[c]11 But the marshes and swamps will not be purified; they will still be salty. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.”
I heard about a church in Germany during the Nazi uprising. It was a little country church by a railroad track. It was a hot Sunday in mid-Summer and the people were gathered for worship. A train slowed to a stop while they were singing and between songs they heard the sound of Jewish prisoners screaming for help. The train was transporting them to be executed. The people in the church didn’t know what to do. The same thing happened the next week. And the next. One Sunday a man stood up and said, “We have to do something about this!”
So they closed the windows and sang louder.
Sometimes it seems to me that our Churches do the same thing. We don’t seem to realize that our worship is supposed to flow from the altar and flood the community with healing and salvation. What happens in our churches is supposed to pour out into the surrounding land and bring life.
May we never be tempted to close the windows and sing louder to drown out the needs that are just outside our walls.