Christianity 201

April 28, 2011

As it Was in the Days of Noah

NIV Gen 9:8  Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

I was thinking of this scripture over the last several days.  God linked his promise not to ever again flood the earth to a sign, a covenant sign, a rainbow.   And yet, we see unprecidented flooding across the midwest United States and the Canadian province of Manitoba.  As with New Orleans, which was built on a delta, much of the land mass of middle America was built in a flood plain, and again this year, the rivers crested, the rain poured down.

But the storms were nothing compared to the “perfect storm” created on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning when the arctic shelf of cold air in the north met with the warmer 80-degree air (28° C) to form the perfect conditions for tornadoes.   164 tornadoes in 24 hours with speeds up to 100 miles-per-hour (160 km/hr) and all the expected loss of life that comes with this weather across many U.S. states.

Was God’s promise an across-the-board promise not to use weather to bring judgment, or does it only apply to global flooding?

I’m not even sure that’s the right question.  I’m not sure questions are the right response.  I’m also acutely aware that anything I write here stands the risk or stands the test of being read by family of people who have lost homes, possessions and even loved ones.

Instead, my mind went to the liturgical phrase, kyrie eleison, Lord have mercy.  As I researched this phrase both in religious websites and in blogs, it occurred to me that this is the phrase we can say when there is nothing left to say.  It is the phrase voiced by desperate people in desperate times.

And so I end with a prayer today:  God, please have mercy on the people of the United States and Manitoba.  Yes, use the weather to draw people to yourself and to tremble at the power of creation itself, but at the same time, we petition you for intervention that would decrease the horror and pain that is being experienced right now.  You are God, you are Holy, your ways are higher than ours, but remember your covenant between yourself and all living creatures.  Lord, have mercy.

The form, Kyrie Eleison occurs in the New Testament here: Matthew 9:27, 20:30, 15:22; Mark 10:47; Luke 16:24, 17:13, and in the Old Testament here: Psalm 4:2, 6:3, 9:14, 25:11, 121:3; Isaiah 33:2