6:16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. 19 And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind, two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them." 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. 9:8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 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. 11 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." 12 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: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
And so it begins... The narrative lectionary cycle begins this week with the story of Noah. (For those of you following the lectionary, I've sorted out some "chapters" for the year. You can find it here.) Not the whole story but the pieces that indicate God's promise both to destroy and then never to destroy in this manner again. The sign of this covenant is the rainbow in the sky. Now, we understand that a rainbow is the refraction of the sunlight amidst water. But Noah saw this colorful bow in the sky and God gave it meaning for Noah.
Remember that Noah, upon hearing this new covenant, decided to plant a vineyard. And as soon as it yielded, he got good and drunk. I've always thought this a reasonable response to the amount of destruction Noah witnessed. And if I were honest, I would almost rather preach about the destruction and chaos in the world. I'd like to hold Noah up to the light and see how our colors are seen in Noah just as God's colors are seen in the rainbow. All of the colors of the rainbow.
Was this rainbow truly a sign of promise to Noah? When he saw the rainbow did he see the promise to never flood the earth again or did he remember that God flooded the earth once?
Memorials are not simple. Memorials are complex. Memorials conjure myriad memories.
What memorials are important to you? How do you remember God's promises in your life? Do you have certain rituals that serve to remind you of God's promises or God's presence or God's provision? This week is a communion is many of our churches, a meal that is meant to remind us - of what exactly? Does it remind us of Jesus' last meal with his friends? Or is it a reminder of God's promise of a new covenant? Or is this meal about Jesus' death, Jesus' life or is it about the kingdom of God gathered - a hopeful meal? For sure, if we were to ask those who gather on Sunday around the communion table, what is the meaning of this table? We would get myriad answers. Memorials are complex.
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