NOTE: Due to weather conditions, the bulletin is included with this sermon if you’d like to worship at home tomorrow. We will have service at 11 for all who can make it. Please be safe and warm…. Love, Rebecca+
Sermon – February 22, 2015
The Rev. Rebecca S. Myers, CSW
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Corbin, KY
First Sunday in Lent Year B
[God said] When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:16
Please be seated
It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? More snow than has been in these regions for nearly 2 decades, followed by some of the coldest temperatures we’ve seen, followed by ice, sleet and rain. Most schools were closed for the week, including colleges. Stores and restaurants closed early or never opened.
Many activities were canceled or postponed. We canceled our Shrove Tuesday pancake supper and still can’t quite figure out when to have it. Very few could make it to Ash Wednesday services. A good week to stay inside, but then there’s the cabin fever that sets in.
And while weather forecasts have gotten so much better, the one thing we know for certain is that the weather is unpredictable! The forecast has been pretty accurate this week. But remember just last month when a HUGE snowstorm was predicted for the East Coast? New York City shut down the subway system and New York declared a State of Emergency before even one snowflake fell, based upon the best weather models. Then something happened and the storm shifted east about 50 miles, totally missing New York City and pounding Long Island and New England instead.
My friends in that region blew up my Facebook page with their rants about the storm that never happened. There were the usual jokes about how can meterologists keep their jobs when they’re wrong 50% of the time? There were very real concerns that the next time a storm was predicted, people would not heed the warning and then get caught in some difficult situations.
But, you see, the nature of the weather is to be unpredictable. There are just too many variables at work and the best science we have today cannot account for all of them and make a certain prediction.
We must learn to live with the weather we get and with the unpredictability of it. Yet, most of us don’t like that unpredictability. We feel anxious or we want to totally ignore the forecasts. A good practice is to have an emergency kit with water, food you can eat without warming it up, candles, space blankets…things you might need if you didn’t have electricity for many days and were stranded. Ready.gov (http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit) has suggestions and lists for what you need to be prepared. I’ll copy the lists and have them available in the parlor.
Midst all of the unpredictability of the weather which affects our lives, today we hear God’s words to Noah after a weather event that wiped out nearly all life on the earth. We know the story. In Genesis 6:11-13, God says:
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth.’
And we know how God told Noah to build the ark and to take 2 of every creature plus Noah’s family and put them on the ark. We know how it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and how eventually there was dry land.
In our passage today, we hear that after the flood, God decided to make a covenant with Noah and with all of Noah’s descendants. Now, a covenant is a special kind of agreement. It is a binding commitment between two or more parties. It describes each party’s obligations and responsibilities. It has the quality of constancy and durability.
And here’s the important piece…the covenant we hear about today is unconditional! God says what God will do in regards to us with no consequences or action on our part – NONE! Most of us cannot make a covenant like that, can we?
In verse 11, God tells Noah: “I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
And so we’ll know and remember this promise and obligation of God, God gives us a sign. A sign is the “visible evidence of the presence and purpose of God.” (Understanding the Old Testament 5th Edition; Anderson, Bishop & Newman; pg 68) God’s sign to us is the rainbow!
Every time we see the beautiful rainbow, and you see lots of them at Cumberland Falls, we remember God’s promise to not destroy the earth and every creature on earth by water. God’s promise to us is to save us…save us from ourselves.
This is God’s activity throughout the ages. God comes to earth as Jesus to save us. “…repent, and believe in the good news,” (Mark 1:15) we hear in today’s Gospel. Repent – turn around and believe in the good news that God saves us…that living God’s way saves us.
In today’s Epistle we hear in I Peter 3:18, “Christ suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God.” God made a covenant with Noah …a covenant with no conditions…a promise durable and lasting. God will not destroy us by water and God always, always acts to save us.
During this season of Lent, remember, think on and meditate on God’s saving actions. While we cannot predict the weather… we can predict God’s saving action! We can trust in God’s saving actions. Remember the covenant every time you see the beautiful rainbow.