Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Keeping the Ark Clean and Safe

This week we are hearing the story of Noah and the Flood. In today’s readings from Genesis we hear Noah being told to “go into the ark” since God plans to save him and his family. We are also told by God to get into the Ark because He plans to save us. The Church is Ark, and in the Ark we are kept safe from the death that surrounds us. If Noah did not trust God he would have died along with everyone else on the Earth.

Do you trust God enough to enter His Ark? The Church opens her doors to you every Sunday (more days in some parishes) for you to get in out of the storm of the struggling world. In the Ark you are kept safe until the storm subsides. If we accept that the storm doesn’t actually end until we have reached Heaven, then we know the only to remain safe is to remain in the Church. But that means more than just sitting in the Church.

I imagine Noah’s Ark required a great deal of work to remain safe, and to keep the animals healthy and safe during the storm. The animals and Noah’s family were in the Ark for a many weeks. If not kept clean the Ark could have become a place of disease and death, rather than a place of salvation and life. In a similar fashion there is a great deal of the work to keep the Church a healthy and safe place for our brothers and sisters to wait out the storms of life. Without proper attention the Church could become infested with sin and death rather than being a place of life and salvation. In fact this does sometimes happen when churches and/or their leaders forget why they entered the Ark in the first place.

We entered the Ark to be saved by God from death. He invited us into the Ark because He wanted us to be safe, but He won’t force us to do the work that it takes to remain healthy. That much is up to us. During the Great Fast, we have an excellent opportunity to clean house, so to speak, and focus on repentance from the sins that infest our lives. As we approach the half-way point of our Great Lenten Journey this weekend, I invite you to take a moment and contact your spiritual father to schedule confession.

Confession is a vital part of our Great Lenten Journey and it is what keeps the Ark clean and safe. Without confession we are just a bunch of animals sharing a barn until the rain stops. With confession we are children of God working to keep our souls and the Ark clean and safe for our salvation.

Here are today’s Old Testament Readings
 Isaiah 9:9-10:4 (RSV) - Thus says the LORD: "And all the people will know, Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria, who say in pride and in arrogance of heart:  'The bricks have fallen, but we will build with dressed stones; the sycamores have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place.'"  So the LORD raises adversaries against them, and stirs up their enemies.  The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.  The people did not turn to him who smote them, nor seek the LORD of hosts.  So the LORD cut off from Israel head and tail, palm branch and reed in one day - the elder and honored man is the head, and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail; for those who lead this people lead them astray, and those who are led by them are swallowed up.  Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men, and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows; for every one is godless and an evildoer, and every mouth speaks folly. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.  For wickedness burns like a fire, it consumes briers and thorns; it kindles the thickets of the forest, and they roll upward in a column of smoke.  Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts the land is burned, and the people are like fuel for the fire; no man spares his brother.  They snatch on the right, but are still hungry, and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied; each devours his neighbor's flesh, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Ephraim, Manasseh, and together they are against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.  Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!  What will you do on the day of punishment, in the storm which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your wealth?  Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still.
 Genesis 7:1-5 (RSV) -  Then the LORD said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.  Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate; and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate; and seven pairs of the birds of the air also, male and female, to keep their kind alive upon the face of all the earth.  For in seven days I will send rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground."  And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.
 Proverbs 8:32-9:11 (RSV) - And now, my sons, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways.   Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.   Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.   For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death."   Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven pillars.   She has slaughtered her beasts, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table.  She has sent out her maids to call from the highest places in the town,   "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" To him who is without sense she says,   "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.   Leave simpleness, and live, and walk in the way of insight."   He who corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.   Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.   Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man and he will increase in learning.   The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.   For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life.

No comments: