What are the uses of water in church celebrations?
Water is used symbolically in various ways. First - it is used in baptism - the symbolic washing away of an old life and dedication to God, as practised by John the Baptist, the prophet and forerunner (proclaimer) of Jesus. Some denominations (e.g. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Methodist) use 'sprinkling' for baptism. Others (eg Baptists) use full immersion. In the RC church (and in some Orthodox) water is blessed by a priest and as a result is used for all sorts of functions including, by sprinkling, the blessing of a house, of commendation of a person to God at their funeral (by sprinkling the coffin) and as an aid to prayer and peparation for worship (by dipping ones finger in some blessed water and making the sign of the cross). Many church denominations, however, do not use water in this way as they believe that it can lead to superstition, and even idolatry. At Holy Communion ('mass', 'Eucharist', Lord's Supper') Christians reenact the events of the Last Supper where Jesus blessed bread and wine saying 'This is my Body and Blood of the new Covenant' thus laying down God's new promise for Mankind. At the crucifixion, eyewitness John describes that when the guards came to Jesus, they thrust a spear into his side. He records that blood and water came out (modern day clot and serum). To reflect this, water is usually added to the wine at Holy Communion. A further use for water is to demonstrate humility. On the night before Jesus was crucified he washed his own disciples feet - a humble task only usually performed by slaves - as an example of how they should serve each other. Nowadays, on Maundy Thursday (when we commemorate when this event happened) some churches the church leader performs the same duty to members of the church - again as a symbol of his/her service to others. Finally in my own church we have an area for private prayer as the church is open daily. This area has a water feature which bubbles away daily and helps create a very peaceful space conducive to worship and prayer.