"I would like to say 'This book is written to the glory of God', but nowadays this would be the trick of a cheat, i.e., it would not be correctly understood."--Ludwig Wittgenstein
"Talk to me about the truth of religion, and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolation of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand."--C.S. Lewis
Friday, March 03, 2017
Starting with gopher wood
6 When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them; behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 Make a roof[a] for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and set the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life from under heaven; 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 sort 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 sort shall come in to you, to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort 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.
It is worth recalling, this early in Lent, that the story of Noah is one of the stories of God's salvation repeated in the Easter Vigil, where it contributes to the service of water and the symbolism of the Christian baptism. But there's another symbol: I used to point to the rafters thrusting up to hold the peaked roof of the church where I preached; they were a common enough style of exposed rafters popular in church architecture for a time. I would remind my congregation that the place in the church where they sat was the nave, and the reference to things nautical was not an accident. Turn those rafters over, I'd say, put that peaked roof down, and you have a ship; a ship that contains us all, on the waters of life, just as Noah's Ark did.
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