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GIVE A CUP OF COLD WATER

  • June 27, 2017 - 12:26 pm
  • lutherancore

GIVE A CUP OF COLD WATER

I will never forget the first time I drove west across South Dakota. As soon as I had crossed over the state line from Minnesota, I started to see signs telling me how many miles it was to Wall Drug.

Wall, South Dakota, used to be known by locals as “the geographical center of nowhere.” But that was before Ted Hustead came along. Ted was a Nebraska native who opened a tiny drug store in Wall in 1931. Five years later it was still a tiny drug store, and Hustead, who had put all of his earthly resources into starting that store, was thinking about calling it quits. But then his wife Dorothy figured that the people driving by must be thirsty, so she suggested to her husband that he put up a sign on the highway advertising free ice water at Wall Drug. As any wise husband would do, Ted followed his wife’s advice, and by the time he got back to the store thirsty travelers were already lined up for free ice water. They have been stopping by and lining up ever since – over a million people every year – 20, 000 on a good summer day.

When I-90 bypassed Wall in the late 1960’s, the Husteads (now in their fourth generation) did not sit back and wait for their business to die. Instead, they hired Emmet Sullivan, who had built Rapid City’s Dinosaur Park, to erect a fifty-ton, eighty-foot-long dinosaur with light bulb eyes next to the freeway – just to remind travelers that Wall Drug is still open and still expects them to stop by for free ice water.

Stop by Wall Drug today, and you will be amazed at what all got started simply by giving a cup of cold water.

I live near Phoenix, Arizona. Temperatures recently have been reaching close to 120. They even have to cancel flights when it gets that hot. With the effects of the heat on air currents, it is just not safe for the planes to land and take off.

With the temperatures that hot, you can imagine the effect on homeless people. The church where my wife and I attend is one of several Lutheran churches in the area that are involved in supporting the summer heat respite program at Grace Lutheran, one of the oldest Lutheran churches in Phoenix. From June to September every year they serve about 12, 000 homeless people to help keep them from dying on the streets from the heat. They serve breakfast and lunch to about 250 people per day, and distribute 500 bottles of water a day. They also hand out clothing and toiletries. But in many ways it is the cold water that is the most essential.

In our Gospel lesson for July 2 Jesus commends anyone who gives “even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones.” (Matthew 10: 42) Before moving to Arizona I never appreciated Jesus’ saying “a cup of cold water.” Water is essential for life. But when the temperatures reach well over one hundred, even warm water, let alone hot water, will not do. We need cold water to refresh the body, to cool down the body, to preserve life.

In the desert during the summer it is a matter of life and death – a cup of cold water. Do you share with others what is essential to life and what gives and sustains life – a cup of cold water, Jesus the Living Water? And do you share it generously and with genuine love and concern?

Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE

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