Week 2: Creation
Prayer passage: “Through the waters of the flood you delivered Noah and his family … .”
Scripture reading: Genesis 6:11-22.
Hymn: “Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters” (ELW, 445).
Song: “Washed by the Water” by Needtobreathe.
When God decided to flood the world, it was because “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). After creating such wonderful life with water and God’s word at the beginning, humans and our sinfulness quickly messed up God’s good creation. So God decided to start again.
God decided to wash away all of the old, disgusting, evil stuff and start fresh. God tells Noah to build the ark so that he, his family and two of every animal can restart the world. Although we don’t know what Noah thought about this major task he was called to do, we know that he “did all that God commanded him” (6:22).
Today, we understand the power that water has to wash dirty stuff away. We wash our bodies. We wash our dishes. We wash our cars. We know that sometimes things get so nasty that they need a fresh, clean start.
However, think about Noah and his family and all of those animals floating on that ark for 40 days and 40 nights. It probably felt like the flood would never stop. This was not a cycle on the washing machine that tells you how much time is left. This was a flood that seemed to never end.
Imagine Noah’s relief when the waters started to recede, when the ark came to rest, and when the dove returned with an olive branch.
Perhaps Noah started to think that God was not to going bring new life. Perhaps this felt like destruction with no end in sight. Sometimes in our lives, it feels like our pain and suffering will never end. It feels like we will never catch a break. It feels like new life will never come. But imagine Noah’s relief when the waters started to recede, when the ark came to rest, and when the dove returned with an olive branch. The washing was over.
Then imagine Noah’s greater relief at hearing God’s word of promise given with the sign of the rainbow. “When I bring the clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh” (9:15).
Sometimes baptism is called a “bath” or a “washing.” It is the removal of our sin. More important, it is a death and resurrection—as Martin Luther emphasized in his appropriately titled “flood prayer.” Our old life is killed, and with water and God’s word, a new life is born.
Even when it seems like destruction is all around us and all hope is lost, God still uses water and God’s promise to bring about new life.
Read part 1 in this series.