What Noah Didn’t Have

I was driving into work this morning and realized that I never posted this week’s sermon!  I was having problems with the audio after church on Sunday and said I would try again but never did.  As usual, audio is here.  Here you go!

Genesis 6:11-22

What Noah Didn’t Have

So … how was everybody’s week?

I think the highlight of mine was probably some point on Thursday morning when I sent Bruce a series of nine text messages explaining the unwritten code of coffee shop conduct when it comes to internet and outlet usage and how a man had broken it at Starbucks that morning and stole the outlet that I was planning on using that morning to work.

When Bruce did not respond in a timely manner I then called my mother to explain it to her over the phone while she was trying to work.I thought I had hit my breaking point.

I invite you all to share yours with each other after church – I think we have reached the point where we can joke about it.

Regardless, this week without power has given me a lot of time to think. I think it is safe to say the same for those of you sitting here this morning in worship. As a society we are not used to living for an extended period of time without simple luxuries like electricity and running water. We are not used to not having answers when we ask questions directly and we are not used to having to wait. We are not used to actually having to trust that things are going to be okay. We are not used to not being able to control the things going on around us.

And as New Englanders, we are not necessarily used to hurricanes either. We are not used to the work that goes into preparing for them. We are not used to waiting and wondering what is going to happen. We are not used to simply not knowing.

Now you all know that I tend to preach from the Revised Common Lectionary. It gives me, as a preacher, focus and direction and it gives us as, a church community, the opportunity to live out the Christian Year and to really experience the seasons.That being said, I threw away the lectionary this week. Because sometimes life and context are more important to preach on; and this week life got a little hectic. I decided to preach on Noah and the flood because there was a question that kept popping into my head over the last week and a half.

And so now I will pose that question for you: Do you ever wonder how overwhelming or frustrating or even scary it must have been for Noah to prepare for such a flood all by himself?

That thought crossed my mind several times as I prepared the church and the parsonage for Hurricane Irene last week and then reacted after it happen this past week. Noah did not have church leaders to converse with as decisions about cancelling meetings, events and worship had to be made. Noah did not have friends offering to help at all hours of the night. Noah did not have family and friends checking in on him through calls, text messages and emails. Noah did not have a consistent flow of media reporting on the storm and the power outages with the latest updates. Noah did not have a governor issuing a state of emergency. Noah was not able to grab a case of water or non-perishable food items. Noah could not access websites and radio stations giving tips on how to best ride out the storm. Noah did not have people whose neighborhoods were recovering more quickly offering water, showers and electricity to charge electronics.

How lucky am I? I have all of those things.

How lucky are we? This past week – despite the frustrations that we all inevitably felt at one point or another – we were blessed with all of those things.

God told Noah to build an ark, to cover it with a roof, to put doors on the side and to add multiple decks to it. God told Noah to bring his family and their families and two of every type of animal in the world onto the ark with him. God told Noah to make sure that there was enough food on the ark to keep everyone alive during the flood. And Noah did all of these things.And he did them without the same kind of support that we all had as we weathered last week’s hurricane.

Hurricane (or Tropical Storm) Irene may have caused us all several inconveniences these past two weeks, but at least we were all able to experience those inconveniences together. We live in a time and age of such vibrant communities and connections with and to our brothers and sisters in faith. With the ability to quickly connect with and to one another through phone calls, text messages, emails, facebook and twitter—outreach and support flow freely like a fast moving river.

A friend of mine who is a pastor in Florida called me the Saturday night before the storm to see how I was doing. It was so wonderful to hear her reassuring voice give me some practical hurricane tips and tell me that everything was going to be okay.

And that was only the beginning. There was not a single day this past week that I did not receive a phone call, an email, a text message or a facebook message either from someone in this community or a friend or family member from near and far checking in on me and checking in on the church.I felt reached out to, I felt loved and I felt completely supported.

And I would be willing to bet that if you all put aside the frustrations of the storm and the lack of power and water and some of the communication issues with National Grid and really, really thought about everything that has gone on over the past week or so, you might feel reached out to, loved and completely supported as well.

There is a community in Taize, France, which is in the eastern region of France, called the Taize Community. The Taize Community is an ecumenical monastic order composed of 100 brothers of both Protestant and Catholic traditions. The order focuses on meditation through prayer and song and silence to really connect to God on an individual and personal level. Every year thousands of people visit Taize to experience not only the worship, but also the monastic life of the brothers.

The worship hymns of Taize are very simple and very repetitive. They are written in Latin, but of course have been translated into English. There is one hymn in particular that I kept singing quietly these past two weeks as we prepared for and then reacted to the hurricane. It is called Ubi Caritas et Amor, which in English translates to Where True Charity and Love Abide. The song goes: Ubi caritas et amor,ubi caritas Deus ibi est. That translates to in English:Where true charity and love abide,God is dwelling there; God is dwelling there.

Was God present with Noah as he prepared for the flood? Yes. Has God been present with all of us as we prepared ourselves for and then dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Irene? Yes. But the difference between then and now is that we could see God dwelling – like the hymn says – through the love and charity extended to all of us by our brothers and sisters, by one another.

We could see God dwelling in every phone call made out of concern for a friend or a family member. We could see God dwelling in every bottle of water or box of food dropped off to someone in need. We could see God dwelling in the hours and hours of overtime put in my police forces and utility workers. We could see God dwelling in the time and energy given to our community by the volunteer fire and ambulance crews. We could see God dwelling in the one member of our household that was not melting and who continuously said throughout the entire ordeal, “It is going to be okay”. We could see God through the relief crews that traveled and are continuing to travel day and night to areas that were affected more than their own.

Even though we were frustrated – I really do believe that we could see visible signs of God all around us this week.

Where true charity and love abide – God is dwelling there, God is dwelling there.God is dwelling here.

Noah waited weeks and weeks and weeks before he finally saw a visible sign of God’s dwelling presence in the olive leaf that a dove brought back to him.How lucky are we that we were able to visibly see God in the midst of everything that went on?

Where true charity and love abide – God is dwelling there, God is dwelling there.God is dwelling here.

Amen.

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