A couple of weeks ago we walked through the Power House Museum in Home Hill. It was our first visit and we found the large photographic display both informative and fascinating. Well worth the visit if you haven’t done so already.
We didn’t realise that Home Hill had power before Townsville. That’s something! And all because the Inkerman Irrigation Scheme, commissioned in 1922, needed electricity.
Water and power – we can be inclined to take them for granted. The underground water is the “liquid gold” that our agricultural pursuits are built on. We feel the pinch acquiring this “gold” when world sugar prices are low and the Aussie dollar is up. Still, we look around and know we are so much better off that other sugar-producing areas that are dependent solely on the weather.
But then the water isn’t much use unless there is some way to bring it to the surface for irrigation purposes. They tell me it was John Drysdale’s contribution that was so valuable here with the use of the Abyssinian “spear”. But not all could afford a steam engine to run the pump. Electric power is the answer. It isn’t cheap, but it is the means of making the “liquid gold” available.
Here in the Burdekin, we celebrate two major public festivals – the Water Festival on the north of the river, the Harvest Festival on the south. Together they represent key features that are common to us all – the water and the harvest.
The Jews had a number of important festivals. One of them was the Feast of the Tabernacles. For a week they lived outside in tree shelters – a reminder that their forefathers had wandered for forty years in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.
But, most importantly, it was the “festival of ingathering” – a harvest festival when they thanked God for the completed harvest. One of the rituals associated with this Feast was a procession each day from the Temple to the Gihon spring in the Kidron Valley. A priest filled a gold flagon with water while the choir sang, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Is. 12.3). Then they returned to the altar and poured out the water. Sounds a bit like a water festival?
John 7 records when Jesus went up to Jerusalem for this Feast. “On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him’. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (vv. 37-39).
Those words of Jesus were fulfilled on another great Jewish feast – Pentecost. It was also known as the Feast of Weeks because it was a “week of weeks” after the Passover. It was also a harvest festival. The first barley sheaf was offered at the beginning of the Passover. Pentecost, seven weeks later, marked the completion of the barley harvest.
Pentecost is always seven weeks after Easter. This year that’s 30th May. That’s when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the waiting praying believers in Jerusalem. Jesus had promised them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8).
That’s still the commission – Jesus still invites people to come to him and offers water to all who are thirsty. And that’s the power – we can’t be his witnesses unless his Spirit is released in us. We’ve no excuse to be idle!
Peter J Blackburn.
© Peter J Blackburn, Link, June 2004