I'm re-publishing this sermon precisely because of the brilliant insight I mentioned. David was kind enough to share an early copy of his short-story with me and I complimented him on his clever wordplay with "rainbow" and "bow," to which he replied he wasn't so sure it was a play on words. So, I decided to head straight for the origional Hebrew text. Much to my surprise, and ultimately my delight, I found that David was right on the mark (if you'll pardon the pun). I knew then that I had to pull out one of my own perosnal favorite sermons and do a bit of editing to reflect this new insight. I've also updated it to reflect recent struggles in LGBT rights. You'll find both a downloadable pdf and an audio recording of this piece at the bottom of the post. So, without further adieu, I give you:
Building Arks. Surviving Floods. Rainbow Promises.
The Peanuts characters Linus and Lucy are standing at the window watching the
rain. Lucy says, "If it doesn't stop raining everything will be washed away."
"Oh no!" says Linus. "Genesis chapter 9 says that never again will God wash
"Thank you." says Lucy, "that is a great comfort to me."
Linus replies, "Sound theology will do that."
Now, some of you didn’t laugh at that. And with good reason, I’d say. The irony in that cartoon is two fold. First, when you are in the middle of a monstrous storm, an old story recorded some 3,000 years ago really isn’t all that comforting. But secondly, and possibly more disappointing, just as frequently as not “sound theology,” at least on the surface, can seem anything but comforting.
As a child I remember the Noah story being one of my favorite stories. I could pass endless hours drawing pictures of a large boat with an old man wearing a rain hat hanging over the stern. On a side note, I have to admit to being remarkably confused about how Noah actually put all those animals on one boat when I couldn’t even think of all the animals, more-or-less draw them on my sheet of paper.
The truth is, most of us really love this story. How many children’s rooms, across the US are decorated with animals, arks and rainbows all painted in vibrant pastels? Somehow, there is something comforting about it. Somehow, there is something beautiful in the promise for the future captured in an acrylic rainbow that has been painted in an exaggerated arch just over the baby’s crib.
I’d have to say my perspective has change considerably since my naïve childhood. As I come to these texts again, the reality of the chaos and violence comes crashing through with every imagined wave. This is not a pretty story and I’m not talking about how far humanity had fallen.
Place this story in modern times. What would be the newspaper headline? One noted reporter penned this headline for the Noah Flood Event, “God Destroys the World – One Family Survives.” Sounds like the perfect chair-rail border for the little toddler’s room doesn’t it? “God Destroys the World.” No, it really doesn’t, does it?