Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Covenant and community
Genesis 9:8-9 and 11 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you… Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood.
The exceedingly wealthy Victorian vicar Rev Arthur Wagner had the towering edifice of St Bartholomew, Ann Street, Brighton built, it is said, to the dimensions of Noah’s Ark.
WE SAW how God’s intention for man was to live in community. If the Trinity is a form of community within one person, then man, made in God’s image, must function best in community.
However, that first community failed and the person chosen as God’s team-mate for a restart seems to have been an extremely dogged individual – Noah. Perhaps he was the exception that proves the rule. Having spent a hundred years or so on his project to build a massive ship, despite living inland and never having seen one, God made an agreement with him (and by extension us) that He would spare us from judgment, in particular another devastating flood. Comforting in this time of unprecedented rainfall. It is even more comforting to be reminded again that God is for us. In fact, thousands of years later Paul was to write to the church in Rome and say – Romans 8:31
If God is for us, who is against us?
God is for US, rather than you or me. Noah was an exception to this rule. He seems to have been the sole marine architect and also ship-builder and his project was successful – but he did have a long time to think about it.
Independence doesn’t get a good press in Scripture. For the rest of us, who do not have Noah’s unique capabilities, we need each other. Possibly Rev Arthur Wagner might have benefitted from community wisdom before lashing out £18,000 (a huge sum then) on what some describe as a monstrosity – although all the seating (for 1,500) was free, at a time when pew rents were usually charged and were seen as a good source of income for the incumbent!
This is an example about opposites. Occasional mavericks excepted, community is God’s design which works for the rest of us, and we need the different skills, passions and indeed spiritual gifts working in concert to bring about God’s purposes. As we face into a world of increasing unbelief and self-determined separation from God’s way, shown in Jesus, it is more than ever vital that our prayer and praise ‘sound’ is one where everyone is together and harmonised.