- Forms | Resources
- About Us
- Give / Donate
February 24, 2021
Midweek Lenten Worship
The story of Noah’s ark is often simplified to a children’s nursery or bedroom theme, with toys that represent the animals, Noah and his family, the ark and, of course, rainbows. And all of those things are kid-appropriate reminders of the story. But for grown-ups, there’s much more to it than that.
In the beginning, God created the world and all that is in it, and called it “good.” And then human beings started being human beings. And then God gave up on the world and decided to wipe the slate clean and start over. A new beginning.
But after the flood, God changed God’s mind and decided that wasn’t the way to go about things. God promised, “Never again” and the rainbow is the sign of that promise.
No matter what happens, no matter how far we wander from God’s hope, never again will the world be washed away in a flood. Because God made a covenant to stick with us.
At its core, a covenant is a sacred agreement that can be used for almost any kind of relationship. But in biblical times, they were legal agreements that bonded a relationship of mutual obligation. Usually one side of the relationship had more power over the other, but each side was equally obligated to honor the covenant.
But there are a couple of things about the one God makes after the flood that are different. First, is that in this covenant God commits God’s self to all of creation – not just human beings. God is so adamant about this, that it’s mentioned multiple times in the story.
The second unique characteristic of this covenant is that all of the responsibility is on God. None of it’s on us. God reaches out to the world and gives this covenant without condition, for all time.
This doesn’t mean that God was prepared to accept the presence of sin and evil in the world and not do anything about it, but that God committed to work from within the world in order to redeem it. So rather than destroy the world again, God opened God’s heart and took in the suffering that is here.
And God made covenant after covenant – with Abraham, with Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness, with the Israelites when they were in exile, and again when they returned….
In each of these covenants, through every time of hardship when the people didn’t know what was coming next, God promised to never abandon them. To always be at work in the world. To always be their God. Reminding them that they’d not been forgotten, and giving them reason to look ahead with hope.
God’s covenant with the world took a new form in Jesus. And like the covenant with Noah and all of creation, God gave it freely and took on all of the responsibility. It was a gift of grace.
In Jesus, we are claimed by God for all time. And by virtue of that claim, God promises to continue to stay with us and work in our world.
There are days when it’s crystal-clear that God has kept that promise – when we know, without a doubt, that God is still with us. And there are days when we have to be still, and focus in order to feel God’s presence, and hear God’s loving voice calling down not only from above, but also from around us and within us.
In a world that is so confusing at times that we don’t know what to think, much less know what might come next. When we’re tempted to wonder whether God is present or still at work among us, we need to remind and assure one another, again and again, the promise that God is still with us, and that God is still at work in the world.
In Jesus, God took care of everything – and God promised to care for us. It was a covenant that was freely given, for all time. And because of that, we live with hope and confidence – knowing that God has kept that promise for today and for our future. Thanks be to God! Amen.