This year during Lent, our readings from the Old Testament will focus on the five covenants, or promises, that God made with the people of Israel before the coming of Jesus. Each covenant makes a shift in the people from past to new future that reminds us of our baptism. This is the first covenant, which God makes with Noah after the flood.
Genesis 9:8-17 (New Revised Standard Version)
8God 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, 10and 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. 11I 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.” 12God 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: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I 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. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Devotional Questions from the ELCA’s Book of Faith Initiative:
What scares, confuses, or challenges me in this text? What do I have questions about?
I do not like flooding. When my family and I lived in central Pennsylvania, flooding was an almost yearly reality. The thing about flooding that I especially did not like was the anticipation. When there is a tornado or snowstorm, it happens, and it is over, and then the clean up begins. With flooding, you know that it is raining, and that it is going to flood, but you have all sorts of time to think about it, to watch it rise, to endure it, and then to watch it slowly sink back away. It is an extremely helpless feeling, and a reminder that, ultimately you have no control. I am challenged by the story of the flood because I know the dread that I feel in relation to flooding, and I can’t imagine having to endure a world-wide flood, especially in response to the sin of others. I wonder how Noah’s family endured such a difficult thing. Did it draw them closer to God? To one another? Did they learn that they had strength beyond what they had imagined before?
What delights me in this text? What do I like about it?
When we lived in central Pennsylvania, most of the flooding that occurred was because of hurricanes on the coast. As nasty as the rain, wind and flooding were, my favorite days of weather were always the day after a hurricane. The morning would dawn sunny and clear, the air would smell clean and fresh and new, and it seemed like anything was possible. I wonder if that’s how Noah and his family felt when they were finally released from the ark. Were they relieved? Did the world seem fresh and new? Were they ready for a new start?
What stories or memories does this text stir up in me? You might remember a time when someone made a promise to you, or you made a promise to someone else, for example.
This story reminds me to take the time to look around. To see the rainbow, or the sunrise, or the beautiful configuration of the stars. I am reminded to listen for the cry of the hawk, or the rushing of wind through the trees, or even the sound of sheer silence, when it feels like even nature is holding its breath and listening for God to speak. God spoke to Noah through the rainbow, and I wonder what it was like to remember God’s voice, God’s promise, living through the flood, each time a rainbow appeared after a storm. What was it like to be God’s people of the rainbow promise?
What is God up to in this text? What is God calling you to do or to be because of this story?
I am looking forward to walking with you through these promises of God during Lent this year. Together, we will remember the rainbow (Noah), the stars in the sky (Abraham), the Ten Commandments (Moses), the bronze serpent (Moses), and the law on our hearts (Jeremiah). Together, we will listen for God’s voice calling us to baptismal remembrance. Together, we will discover God’s call for us, here and now and in this place. As always, I am looking forward to discovering what this old, old story has to say to us.
In Christ’s promise, Pastor Breen Marie