Lent 2012: 2.4 — Eight at a Time

Throughout Advent, we posted blogs each week based on the Lectionary Readings for the previous Sunday. It was truly an awesome experience to travel through Advent with the universal church by praying, meditating, and responding to those texts. We loved it so much, we thought we’d do it again throughout Lent.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water.  Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. — 1 Peter 3:8-22 (ESV)

The Epistle reading and the Old Testament reading for the first Sunday of Lent, bring us to the same story.  It’s a familiar story that we all remember from the flannel-graphs of our childhood.  Noah and the Ark.

Yesterday, we looked a bit at the covenant side of this story.  God established a rescue plan for Noah, his family, and anyone else willing to get in the boat.  The flood was coming, and God in His Grace, said, “I’ll rescue you, and then I’ll covenant with you.”  It’s a message that He still gives to us.

Lent leads us through the fruition of that Rescue Plan.  Birth to Death to Resurrection.  Rescue has come.

As the floodwaters worked to cleanse the world of sin in the time of Noah, so baptism shows that we have been cleansed of sin.  Jesus in His death paid the price for us, and baptism is our way of identifying with that death.  Our way of saying, “I’ll get in the boat and receive the rescue.”  And on the other side, God brings covenant.

Covenant that …

  • He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5).
  • He will give us life that is more than sufficient (John 10:10).
  • He will send us a Comforter who will not only comfort us when our hearts are broken, but will endow us with power to bring Kingdom wherever we go (John 14:8).

So many times when reading the Noah story, we picture a flannel graph boat, a few animals, and a Noah with long wavy gray hair.  He floats around for a while, then sends birds out to check on the condition of the world around them.  Finally, after the boat comes to rest on a mountaintop, we get a flannel graph rainbow and a promise.  Yet, when that’s all we see in the story, we miss the bigger element.

God has covenanted with Noah for all future generations.

Then Messiah comes.

Covenant is extended, and we’re all invited into the boat.  We’re all invited to share in the process.  To be a part of the covenant.  We’re invited to hear God say to us, “I promise to do anything it takes at any cost to Me to see you become who I have created you to be.”

And, we respond, by taking the Kingdom to all the world, sometimes only eight people at a time.

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