“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. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 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. When 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.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:8-17)
As I read through this passage, I remembered all the times I have used this passage in worship services, meditations, and other writings. God’s cleansing of the lands (whether you understand it as being literal or figurative) is powerful. And the promise of “never again” destroying the world as sealed by the rainbow in the sky is a continual reminder that God is with creation and humanity for all of its existence. And that God will provide for creation and humanity beyond its existence.
There will be times of trouble and trauma, distress and discord, but never again through destruction. No, humanity is now capable of destroying itself and all that surrounds it. God is embarking on a plan to renew.
“For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.” (1 Peter 3:18-22)
As we enter into Lent, we are reminded of what we have done to others, to our relationship with God, and to ourselves. In the times of the early church, the period of time leading up to Easter was a time of preparation for baptism of new converts. That is part of how the season of Lent came into existence, and part of the recurring three themes for each of the lectionary years. Year A is the calling of new Christians. Year B, where we are now, is renewal and recommitment. And Year C is penance, confession, and forgiveness. It is during the yearly season of Lent that these themes come out most strongly.
This past Wednesday we have been marked as those in need of our God and the covenant that was made between God and humanity. Let us give thanks that God set in motion a plan that is still being fulfilled. Selah!