21 February 2021: Waters of Flood and of Baptism
I recorded my sermon for today’s online communion service at home on Tuesday. The Old Testament reading was the story of the Covenant with Noah. On Monday I had gone into our church to photograph one of our stained class windows which has in one of its panels a portrayal of Noah and his family in the ark. (See the picture on the right.) The second reading was the Baptism of Jesus, which is shown in the main panel of that same window. Thanks to my video editing software, I was able to have various shots of the window display onscreen during the relevant parts of my sermon.
The link between the two readings comes from 1 Peter 3, where the writer draws a parallel between the the flood waters Noah and his family had to pass through and the waters of baptism through which Christians pass to claim the salvation that comes from Christ. The writer of the letter sees Christ’s salvation as so powerful it can even extend to those whose behaviour led to the Flood. It can certainly extend to us.
The two readings also relate to a time of new beginnings. When Noah and his family came out of the ark, God had washed the old world away and it was time to remake it as He would wish. When Jesus was baptised, He turned His back on His old life as a craftsman and took up the mission God intended for Him. It was a mission that was to lead to His death on the Cross.
I pointed out that the ancient Hebrews saw God’s Covenant with Noah as extending to all humanity, of whatever race or creed, because they regarded all human beings as Noah’s descendants. I also pointed out that the Covenant is not only with Noah and his descendants but with all living creatures. What, I asked, are we doing to protect the rest of nature? Can we make this Lent a time of new beginnings for ourselves and for the planet?