Lectionary Passage: Genesis 9: 8-13 (14-17)
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you,and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
OK, so I’ve dusted off my little greenish translucent marble thing and it’s sitting here beside me. According to what I told the world in yesterday’s blog, this is supposed to remind me how much I’m cherished by God. So why do I feel like I’m drowning? Why do I feel mired in chaos? Why do I sometimes wish, just for a moment, the world would stop? Enter…the ark. I wonder how I would fare on an ark. I used to like sailing–the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, the coolness of Galveston Bay when the sun on my face got to be too much, and the smell of fried shrimp and hushpuppies as we sailed back into Kemah. But, somehow, I’m thinking it looked different. Personally, it sounds pretty chaotic to me–howling elephants, uncontrollable zebras (I hear they’re not that well-behaved), and a vast array of odd amphibious creatures that I don’t even know. Good grief, I can barely handle one 85-lb. black lab that eats Bibles, puts the throw pillows underneath the cushions on the loveseat, and turns down the covers on the bed and burrows underneath them before I can get in. Chaos seems to abound whether or not you own an ark…
This passage is actually the end of a really long story that most of us know. You know…Noah gets wind (pun intended!) of one of those severe weather warnings and is told to pack up the ark with all the earth’s animals and then he and this holy menagerie sail around until the rain stops and the water subsides. And then they begin to load off the ark. Who knows what they would find? And, finally, God speaks. God makes a promise. This will not happen again. In fact, the earth will be made anew. All of creation will be made anew, recreated. Chaos has not been wiped out. It has been reordered. It has been recreated into life. It’s not a new Creation as in a DIFFERENT one . God doesn’t erase the chalkboard and begin rewriting history. Rather, God takes what is there and makes it new, gives it life.
So why does chaos abound? Why is life still sometimes filled with darkness and despair that almost chokes it away? Why does my greenish translucent marble thing even get dusty at all? Maybe it’s because if life were easy, we’d never look at the rainbow. You see, this story is not about the ark. It’s not about the flood. I don’t even think it’s about human sinfulness or chaos. It’s about the promise. God stretched a bow across the darkness to remind us that it is hope and life, rather than sin and darkness, that are the permanent reality.
In this Lenten season, we will often find ourselves surrounded by darkness. We may find ourselves mired in despair. We might somehow turn up on a road that we never intended to travel. In fact, sometimes we find ourselves in hell. But these are never the final word. Even when tales of a place called Golgotha begin to swirl around us, there is always something more. When we come to the end, God will be there to beckon us into the arms of grace that we might begin again. God has promised recreation. But, you see, we have to let go of the chaos. And maybe THAT’S the point of this Lenten journey.
Grace and Peace on this Lenten Journey,
Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. (Arundhati Roy)
Grace and Peace on Your Lenten Journey,