Beloveds in Christ,
This Sunday's first reading will be from the 9th chapter of Genesis, in which God establishes a covenant with Noah and his family after the flood recedes.
If you were to lay this reading alongside part of the first creation account in Genesis 1:27-31, and were to read them aloud one after the other, you might notice a lot of overlap-- places of agreement and difference-- in the phrases that are used in both passages. In both, God In the creation story, all creatures (including everything with the ‘breath of life’) are to eat plants only, while in the Noah narrative, in addition to plants, humans are given “every moving thing” to eat, but they are to drain the blood or life-force from it first (which is still practiced by kosher butchers). In the creation story, humans are to have dominion over all animals. But in the covenant with Noah, the language goes further: henceforth animals are "delivered" into human hands. Much more ominous. But also a situation that would not have worked while on the ark itself. Only after Noah finds dry land and offloads all his animal cargo does this language appear. In both stories, humans are reminded that they are made in God’s own image. In the Noah story the command to be fruitful and multiply is repeated twice rather than once, and the wording varies slightly. We might wonder why the story of Noah's covenant appears in this first Sunday in Lent this year. Probably one of the first reasons is to remind us of our own covenantal relationship with God. Wait a minute, some of you might think-- I never signed any covenant with God. But remember--we take on that obligation each time we repeat our Baptismal Covenant-- that name is not accidental. Lent is a time of returning to fidelity with the covenant to which God has called us-- to re-member and rededicate ourselves to repentance for where we have fallen short, and to renew our intention to love God and neighbor, to turn away from sin, and to become a new creation in the eyes of God. As I noted in my Ash Wednesday homily, that doesn't mean self-deprivation should be our focus. Our focus should be instead on recommitting ourselves to embodying the gospel of Jesus to all who look upon us, to renew our commitment to prayer and learning more about our faith, to taking on good habits to supplant the lesser things that may have crept into our lives, especially during this past year of pandemic. This Lent, let us become a new creation in Christ, and renew our covenant with God to walk in the Way of Love and Healing with all creation.
In Christ, Leslie+ February 19, 2021, 1 Lent B (Image: Larche de Noe [The Arch of Noah] at the Palatine Chapel, Palermo, Sicily, 12th century mosaic)