There are some stories that everyone knows. They are becoming fewer in number in our multi-cultural society with its multiplicity of stories. Once everyone knew bible stories, now they don't know many. Most will still know the story of Noah's Ark. It is well known because small children love tales of animals. They also like playing with toy animals and you can still buy Noah's Ark toys. Today we read the story in Genesis. How does it inform our Christian faith? Here are a few ideas.
- The destruction of evil. It is a constant theme in history that human beings often long for a new start. Filled with revolutionary zeal they attempt to destroy all that they perceive to be corrupt and evil. Do that and all will be well. A study of history tells us that it is not the case - as Edmund Burke argued in his book on the French Revolution two centuries ago. Religious people often seek to do the same - the result the fragmentation of the Reformation. In the story of Noah it is God who acts in this way, despairing of the way his creation has gone. We would say that the story reflects the attempt of Mesopotamia people to make sense of some dreadful natural disaster from which only a few survived. It has to read intelligently.
- A promise & new start. In Christian thinking the story of Noah speaks of the new start that God gives his people. The rainbow at its close was a sign that God would not so act again. The story becomes an image of our baptism. Passing through the waters of Baptism we die to all that is evil and wrong in our world and in ourselves and enter the new life that Christ gives us. This process is a daily one, every morning God can destroy the evil in us if we repent and turn to him. Such a discovery comes out of mature reflection rather than revolutionary zeal.
- The Church as Ark. A traditional picture of the church was that of the ark. The word 'nave' has its roots in the Latin word for ship. Our roof timbers remind us of an upturned ark. This image has its strengths. As members of the church we sail through life' storms in the ark of faith. It suggests a voyage, a pilgrimage, and a journey in faith. It also has its weaknesses. In the ark we can shut ourselves off from the world in a holy huddle unaware of what is going on outside apart from feeling the effects of the waves.
- A proper worldly concern. - Salvation The Ark eventually settles on dry land. Noah, his family and his menagerie are sent out to be fruitful & to multiply. If we like the image of the Church as Ark we need to complete our picture. God in Christ sends us out to be fruitful and to multiply as Christian people. I'm not speaking of biology but of our mission in the world.
- The story reminds us of our role as stewards of creation. We are to care for what God has made. The fashionable concern for ecology and the environment should be ours too. If the story of Noah's Ark is one of the few Bible stories known by a secular generation then its ecological theme can help us connect as a Church with the young who care passionately about global warming and such matters.
- The need to withstand the flood Here we can link in with today's gospel reading, one which most of us will have to learnt to sing at Sunday School, complete with the actions! If we are to withstand the flood, the storms and the winds of life we need to be built on foundations of rock. The rock is Jesus Christ and His Gospel. In itself the story of Noah is of limited value. Only when it leads us to discover Jesus Christ through the waters of Baptism, through our membership of the church, in our missionary work and stewardship of the creation do we discover its full value.
Return to homepage
Comments about this site or problems? Contact Webmaster (Colin Richards) at firstname.lastname@example.org Last updated 29/05/2005 11:30 Author: David Shepherd