Floods and rescue
And still it rains! I write this during a gap in the clouds and a welcome break in the recent downpour, but I see the forecast is for yet more rain. Where does it all come from?!
Having recently had our fair share of dry summers, I suspect we all appreciate the value of rain. Many parts of the world suffer regular and repeated droughts and famines, and I am sure we are grateful to have a rather different climate. But it is of course possible to have ‘too much of a good thing’, and many in our country have recently experienced disruption, damage and even deaths associated with excessive rainfall and widespread flooding.
But all this is nothing new, and the Bible is full of ‘watery stories’, including migrant people forced to cross dangerous waters, perilous sea voyages, fearsome storms, and – of course – dramatic floods.
The story of Noah and the Ark is probably one of the best known stories. It is a story of God’s judgement and grace, of God’s plan to rescue his creation from destruction, and to provide his people with a new start. The story famously ends with a rainbow and a promise, but God’s rescue plan was never actually completed in these ancient events. It is fairly obvious that the world and its inhabitants still need rescuing. Noah was not the Saviour, but he did point forward to one.
The story of the Ark is in fact the story of the Church, and it is no coincidence that many church buildings have been designed to look like boats and arks. There is an interesting example near the Headington roundabout on the Oxford ring road.
Noah in his day was mocked for his faith. It seemed ridiculous to be building an enormous boat in the middle of a desert. But in time it became obvious to all that Noah’s faith was well placed, and he and his family were saved from the destruction. Many today mock those within the Church who put their faith in a God to save them.
But we surely do need to be saved – not just from dangerous waters, but from everything that results from humanity’s rebellion against God and our inhumanity to one another. The Church brings the good news of the possibility of rescue and a new start, of safety and safe passage through this life.
God has not abandoned us. He says to his people, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you” (Psalm 43:2a).
Noah was not the Saviour, Jesus – the one who walks on water and calms storms – is. As we face storms both about and within, let us each put our faith and trust in him.
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton