I couldn’t take it anymore. We’ve all been there, at some point, I am sure. Probably quite recently. As I was returning from vacation at the end of July, I just couldn’t take the news anymore. Not from the newspaper, not from the television, not from radio or social media. All the violence, all the name calling, all the crimes against humans and humanity, all the destruction of creation.
For my mental health, I had to turn it all off for a while. For about two weeks, I turned off the news and thought about other things. If like me you’ve found yourself weary and tense, angry or paralyzed by all that’s wrong in the world, every now and then, I would recommend that kind of breather.
God does not have that option. God sees it all. God knows it all.
If the world in Noah’s age was anything like our own, no wonder God said, “That’s it. I’ve seen enough. This can’t go on. This is a waste of holy breath. The beings we created in our own image do violence and are spoiling it for everyone and everything. This isn’t what I intended. This may be worth saving but let’s start over again.”
From our vantage point, with awareness of evolution and geology and our presumption of human superiority, the modern person may hear the stories of scripture and be appalled. The descriptions of God and guilt, the frankness about violence and retribution, we declare as too brutal, too ancient, too unattractive.
But from the even lager vantage of reviewing human history, of seeing the world as it is, ourselves as we are, we can hear these stories speaking deep truths. The story of God’s fury at violence, a family, a flood and the rainbow of promise is shared across cultures for a reason. In the story of the flood, we wade into the reality of human sin – our anger and avarice, our pride and willfulness – and the knowledge that we do this of our own accord. There is in the story the conviction that the Divine Creating Power sees our situation and grieves our attitudes and actions and intervenes to save us. In the story, we are offered the promise that God desires more for us, each of us, and is finding a new way to save us.
Sin is still with us and God is still saving us from ourselves through a watery rebirth.
Like the Noah story, baptism reminds us that we stand in need of God’s cleansing. In the waters of the flood and in the waters and a baptism we hear God say, ” Let’s start over.” But in baptism, God saves one person at a time. In baptism, God confronts sin – not by threatening death – but by offering new life.
We are invited to wade into the powerful waters of God’s cleansing, where Jesus, the Son of God, has gone before us. He calls out, “Come on in. This is my new covenant with you. Go where you will, do whatever you will, try as you might to abandon me, I will never leave your side. You are mine. I have promised I will save you.”