Message from Noah
In relation to the whole climate crisis debate and response I am quite surprised how muted any response has been from the Christian community. Not that nothing has been said, but that it has been said quietly. And yes, there was a Christian presence amongst the climate protesters on the streets in 2019, but given the church’s presence in every community around the country ….! The growth of the eco-church movement is good to see, but here again the vital matters around climate change are, more often than not, low down the ‘agenda’ considering.
Perhaps more important than joining the campaigning on the basis of science and other empirical evidence is the whole matter of faith. After all, there is everything blasphemous in only looking at the situation on the basis of ‘humanity has messed up, humanity is able to put it right’.
Not unnaturally, when confronted with news of unprecedented floods around the world my mind turns to the story of Noah. Earthquakes, wind and fire turn my attention to Elijah on Mount Horeb.
The Chester Mystery Plays, which date back to the early 15th century, include the story of Noah and the flood. This was used as the basis for Noyes Fludde, an opera by Benjamin Britten which I helped to produce in Birmingham in 2002. The story is relevant for both times. One of the comical features is Mrs Noah along with her ‘Gossips’ who are the naysayers, the Donald Trump characters, who deny that disaster is coming. However, the key message is found in the Ark and the rainbow, evidence of God’s desire for the renewal and continuation of his creation and his promise that never again will he destroy all life.
It is likely that we will jump on the rainbow promise to reassure ourselves that the disaster, which we can see coming, will not happen. In doing so we too easily overlook the simple fact that in our current situation it is not God who is wreaking destruction but our own selfish actions.
The rainbow promise holds and we can be assured, not that we can mess up as we like without negative result, but that God’s love for his creation continues undiminished.
There is no need for God to repeat the act of judgement because we have the experience of Noah as a judgment for our actions today. We also have this story of salvation and new beginnings and God’s living Word in Jesus, so a similar act of judgement should be unnecessary!!
It may be helpful too to take heed of Elijah’s experience (1 Kings 18) who found himself up Mount Horeb seeking God’s direction for his life, as he faced considerable opposition from some influential people. Sat in a cave he experienced earthquake, wind and fire but realised that in none of these did God speak, but rather in the silence that followed. For our own part we perhaps need to allow ourselves to be moved more by the evidence of God’s love - the rainbow promise, that so often comes quietly, than by the 'bangs and the crashes' of nature. We may then find a responding love and care for God’s creation and all who are part of it rather than a devotion to self-preservation.
Noah was the instrument of God's salvation witnessed in the rainbow. Jesus is God's salvation witnessed in the Cross and a faith that resurrection is his promised love for eternity. We too may be instruments of God's salvation for a world ravaged by flood, earthquake, wind and fire, but faith needs to be put into practice!
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