Thursday, June 03, 2010

A Promise to Noah

This summer, we're focusing on some of the heroes of our scriptural tradition. First up: Noah.

I have to admit, though, that I don't totally love his story (especially the whole "God destroys everything" aspect of it)--and I have a few issues with his "heroism" (since we don't get any signs that he protested against the destruction of everyone else).

What's it all about, then?

Here, in the first book of our Bible, we get a story in which God changes. In a move that is startlingly human, God wishes to start over--to wipe the slate clean and be rid of all the mess. Noah, who we're told was the lone righteous person, gets to be saved, but also has to take up responsibility for saving all the other creatures. After a year and ten days aboard what must have been a noisy, smelly ark, Noah and his family get to set foot on dry ground. And God makes a promise: this will never happen again. Noah may be a hero, but God is the one we're to believe is most changed by the flood.

As God tells Noah that all creation will live in a new covenant relationship with God, a rainbow appears in the clouds as a sign of that promise. Whenever it appears, it will be a reminder of the everlasting covenant between God and all creations: a promise that God will not destroy everything again.

This is a good reminder for me, this week. It feels like so much is precarious and falling apart. Photos of the continuous fountain of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, stories and allegations of deep wrongs committed between Israel and Palestinians (and Turks), posturing and fear of violence between North and South Korea--it all feels like we're barely hanging on. It'd be nice to have a few more rainbow-like signs of promise.

strange beauty 2
Originally uploaded by dmixo6

Rev. Elbert reminds me that rainbows are not material realities, but simple refractions of light on water--the very same water, perhaps, that caused the flood of destruction. Which makes me hold on to the hope that somewhere, amid the very present struggles of our time, possibilities for hope are tucked inside.

I pray that we'll be ready to undertake the hard work it may take to live out those hopes, making them real in our work for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.

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