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Archive for November 29th, 2012

Scripture Readings:

Psalm 29
Genesis 7:1-5, 11-12, 17-23
1 Peter 3:18-22 or Hebrews 11:1-3, 7; 12:1-2
Matthew 24:36-44

Collect:

Almighty and eternal God,                                                                                     according to Your strict judgment You condemned the unbelieving world through the flood, yet according to Your great mercy You preserved believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all.  Grant that we may be kept safe and secure  in the holy ark of the Christian Church, so that with all believers in Your promise, we would be declared worthy of eternal life,                                                                                   through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Intro:  Noah, the son of Lamech (Genesis 5:30), was instructed by God to build an ark in which his family would find security from the destructive waters of a devastating flood that God warned would come. Noah built the ark, and the rains descended. The entire earth was flooded, destroying “every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals” (Genesis 7:23). After the flood waters subsided, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. When Noah determined it was safe and God confirmed it, Noah, his family, and all the animals disembarked. Then Noah built an altar and offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving to God for having saved his family from destruction. A rainbow in the sky was declared by God to be a sign of His promise that never again would a similar flood destroy the entire earth (Genesis 8:20-22; 9:8-17). Noah is remembered and honored for his obedience, believing that God would do what He said He would. (Collect and Intro from The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Reflection: 

When I served as Pastor at a congregation with a pre-school, a teacher impressed on me this about Noah:   we tell it like it’s a cute kiddie  story complete with Disney-like animals, a big boat and a flood but it’s about God’s judgment on all flesh.  It really isn’t “nice”:

13And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,for the earth is filled with violence through them. (Genesis 6)

And in the narrative the word “violence” is central reason for God’s judgment.  But violence is not “nice”:  war, tyranny, murder, suicide, abortion, bloody fights, seemingly endless video games,  are not the picture of man made in the image of God.  There is no sin in a Disney world…and no forgiveness eitherThis violence and the violent must die and God’s righteousness live.  So Noah becomes the image of Baptism: drowning and living, dying and rising.

The icons above are at the entrance of Kramer Chapel, Concordia Theological Seminary (The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) at which is located the large Baptismal font.  (I took the photos above so that explains  the lack of crisp quality and it’s not your vision!)  I think these icons are perfect for a baptistery. A baptistery is an the entrance of a sanctuary to signify that Baptism is the way we enter into the Church, the Body of Christ.  It is the narrow gate through which we enter into the promise of the Kingdom.  This is why Roman Catholic sanctuaries have ‘holy’ water fonts at the entrance and one dips her fingers into the water and traces the cross on the body.  It is a  good reminder of Baptism.  These icons speak to the narrative of Noah and our Lord’s Baptism by John, our Baptism:

“…God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21Baptism, which corresponds to this, 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, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities,  and powers having been subjected to him.”                                                                                                                                                    1 Peter 3: 20-22

When Jesus came to be Baptized by John, the Baptizer said that I need to be baptized by You.  How true for us all!  Jesus did not need to repent and be baptized because He is without sin.  But Jesus said I do this fulfill all righteousness.  See Matthew 3:14-16 Why?  So in Baptism and faith Christians, like Noah, come  safely through the water on account of Jesus Christ, the form of our life in God:  sin drowned and the new man  transformed in His Word of the Gospel.   Jesus was immersed into our muddied waters of sin and then the Lord’s judgment was thoroughly upon Him and  He became sin  so that we become the righteousness of God.    See 2 Corinthians 5:21   We can walk wet in the dew of His Holy Spirit through the means of His Word and Sacraments. “His blood can make the foulest clean.” (“Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, Lutheran Service Book #528)  This cleansing is the daily cleansing of His Word through forgiveness and the peace He gives you. 

Luther in his flood prayer, which has been adapted as  part of the Rite of Baptism in the Lutheran Church is well worth praying at other times beside a Baptism!

Almighty eternal God, who according to thy righteous judgment didst condemn the unbelieving world through the flood and in Thy great mercy didst preserve believing Noah and his family, and who didst drown hardhearted Pharaoh with all his host in the Red Sea and didst lead Thy people Israel through the same on dry ground, thereby prefiguring this bath of thy baptism, and who through the baptism of thy dear Child, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast consecrated and set apart the Jordan and all water as a salutary flood and rich and full washing away of sins: We pray through the same Thy groundless mercy that Thou wilt graciously behold this N. and bless him with true faith in the Spirit so that by means of this saving flood all that has been born in him from Adam and whichhe himself has added thereto may be drowned in him and engulfed, and that he may be sundered from the number of the unbelieving, preserved dry and secure in the holy ark of Christendom, serve Thy Name at all times fervent in spirit and joyful in hope, so that with all believers he may be made worthy to attain eternal life according to Thy promise; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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