New Creation

Genesis 6:16-22; 9:8-15 – New Creation

We began today by watching this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=923jxZY2NPI

1518060_10152219790721008_647046649102681218_oWe begin today at the beginning – back in the water right where we just were, wading around with Louisa. This water of the flood and the water of Louisa’s baptism have quite a lot in common. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We’ve gotta back up. Like we backed up with the Carl Sagan video earlier. We’re the blue dot in the vastness that is God’s creation. Now, you’ll notice we’re not in the garden of Eden but instead we’re with Noah as he’s finishing the ark, getting instructions from God to be the new creation. God is preparing to destroy this beautiful blue dot, our home.

Now, our usual take on this story is this:

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This is the very Bible we give to our youngest folks at River of Hope. Everyone’s happy. It’s rainbow colors and a cheerful, cartoonish dove holding a leaf. We delight in the animal’s orderly marching, 2×2, happily onto the ark to safety, to new life. Happily ever after.

But can you imagine, instead, being left behind? Can you imagine the chaos of the rain not stopping, the growing fear and panic. The violence? The10603335_10152745534461757_4464020683973631957_n death and destruction that surrounded that ark? I still want to see the movie, Noah, because I’m sure Hollywood got the rain and the flood and the panic part right.

Because if this is indeed a new creation story – well that means the old has got to die in order for the new to come to life. And death is never cartoony and orderly. For the old to pass away means chaos and unpleasantness. It means death.

In today’s story, there are 2 promises being made: a promise of destruction and a promise of redemption. As God is preparing Noah to finish the ark – and I love the specificity of the instructions – essentially God is preparing Noah for destruction. Or, more specifically, how to survive the destruction. Because, Noah and his family are chosen to help with the do-over, this re-imagination for this new creation. They will be spared, along with the animals Noah can wrangle onto the ark. Noah and his family and all the animals will help set the new creation in motion.

Now, God wants to start over because the world had become corrupt and filled with violence. God is grieved and wants to start over. And this might seem disconcerting to you. This may be upsetting. Because, I mean, what do you mean God changed God’s mind anyway? Could God change God’s mind about me and you then? Or how about countries God wants to punish? Then, could God just bring the hammer down on them? Then when will it be our turn? And where does it ever stop, this mind-changing God?

God does not do this lightly, and, as you heard, God promises – makes a covenant with all of creation – with you and with me – to never do it again.

IMG_3116Do we believe it? Do we believe that promise? The promise that God will never again destroy the earth and, in fact, redeem it? Yes, we say, as faithful people. We believe in God’s faithfulness to us, so yes, we believe this right?

Funny thing is, we can easily throw our unconscious trust and faith behind the promise of destruction. Because we can be pretty good about pointing out where other people have gone wrong, people who are deserving of God’s wrath. We could spend all of our time making lists of who is in and who is out, right? Ex-husbands or wives – which list do they go on for you? How about a soured friendship or a broken relationship with a son or daughter? How about someone who has hurt you? Do all these folks get on the ark or are they left to their watery grave, undeserving of the promise?

We can get pretty caught up in the promise of destruction, especially when we take it into our own hands. When we act like we are God and God is not.

 

 

38e88975c189353f0e1ecebd94c5208bThis story – our story and God’s story — would end right here if this is what satisfied God. If the promise of destruction was where God wanted to end this story– God probably should not have saved a single human being. Not to give away the ending or anything, but as soon as Noah hits dry land, he’s up to no good almost immediately. Yes, if God wanted creation to be orderly and well-behaved, humans should have been left out of the equation.

It’s almost as if God is preparing for the reality of being let down by humanity. God tells Noah this: 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.

It’s like God knows Noah’s gonna stumble off the ark and tie one on. And yet God promises to be faithful to us, us these epic failures of God’s creation. And not just to us, but to all of the descendants who come after Noah and to every living thing. It’s insulting, isn’t it? It’s ridiculous, this sign of the rainbow. It covers everyone.

Yet, it’s why we gather together today. Not to claim exclusive rights to this promise, to this rainbow. We gather together under the ridiculous sign of the rainbow, remembering the 2 promises made to Noah: destruction and new creation. It’s why we gathered around the fount and saw Louisa baptized. We believe that the waters of baptism also contain 2 promises: destruction and new creation; death and resurrection. We just all participated in something quite dangerous with this precious little girl. We dared to say that she was drowned in these waters – into the death of Christ. We all just stood here and oooh’d and ahhhh’d at Louisa’s death with Christ.

But this is never where God ends the story. Just as the flood and Noah and the ark aren’t the last story, so too with Louisa and this baptism. She was raised again to new life in Christ, just as Christ was raised from the dead. She belongs to Christ now, folks. Which means, she’s joined to us always and forever. It’s an amazing thing and we all just promised to live with her in it! To walk with her in it and to teach her and to learn from her in this life of faith.

And we’re able to make those promises to her today – to support her and love her and teach her – because of that darn rainbow. That rainbow God put in the sky was to remind God that when we screwed up again, God would forgive us, transform us, change us – give us do-overs in a new way.

IMG_3117You see, that rainbow signals to God, “Ah, they’re at it again. Remember, you love them.”

It’s one of our guiding principles we practice together as followers of Christ – to learn how to teach and to love and to forgive. And it takes a lifetime of learning. Just because you’re in church this morning doesn’t mean you have it all figured out. In fact, the very thing we do week in and week out – walk up to this altar to receive bread and wine that forgives our sin – tells us that there is no such thing as a perfect Christian. We are always in need of forgiveness. And that means you and the person sitting next to you and the people who aren’t here and – well, that rainbow covers us all. God knows we will mess up and God will forgive us again and again. God is not satisfied to leave us in our sin but transforms it and us – our very lives.

And what is our reaction to this astounding news? You remember the viral video from a few years ago–the double rainbow guy? It’s over 3 minutes of a man video taping a double rainbow he can see from his back yard. He is undoubtedly in an altered state but what I love about the video is that he is utterly undone, completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the rainbow, exclaiming over and over again, “Oh my God” and ends up in tears, sobbing on the ground, asking this question: what does it mean? what does it mean?

What does it mean? We know what it means, right? It’s a sign that stops us in our tracks, has us getting out our phones to take pictures and then share them as widely as possible – wanting to share with others this beautiful thing.

What does the rainbow mean? For us it means that the promise of God’s love and salvation is for all people and God won’t ever take it back, or undo it, or destroy us. And God means it not just for us but for all people, for every living thing. For every living creature. For every living creature.

It’s a ridiculous rainbow. God’s promise makes no sense. We do not deserve God’s love, yet it’s given to us again and again. And through God’s relentless love for us, we are transformed for the healing and wholeness of God’s world.

We come to worship to be reminded of this promise – this vast love. And we should all be weeping on the ground like the double rainbow guy. Because God loves us that much. You can’t even take it in – it’s too much. And soon, we leave worship so that we can love other people wherever it is we are – at work, at school, at home, out in public. While Carl Sagan can’t see a savior on the horizon, he knows that those of us on this pale blue dot ought to love each other and work to preserve where it is we are. It’s so hard. God only knows. And yet God continues to love us and save us. It’s a miracle. A ridiculous, glorious miracle.

Thanks be to God.

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