There’s a great camp song about Noah and the flood. Its usually sung at breakfast time, and sung at least once again. Some of you may know it from your camp days. It reminds the kids and counselors of the story of Noah and the flood. I was really tempted to sing it to you, but don’t think I have the courage to sing without the choir. I was talking with a friend about singing it and she suggested I go for it. She sings in her sermons sometimes, but she has a great voice.
We sing the Arky Arky song at camp, because its catchy. It’s a fun song that gets campers woken up and ready for the day. And, it reminds us of a Bible story we all know from our earliest days of faith.
Here’s the basics of the lyrics:
The Lord said to Noah: There’s gonna be a floody, floody
The Lord told Noah to build him an arky, arky
He called for the animals, they came in by twosie, twosies
It rained and it poured for forty daysie, daysies
The sun came out and it dried up the landy landy
The animals they came off they came off by three-sies three-sies
That is the end of, the end of my story, story
Children of the Lord
But, the animals coming off the ark is not the end of the story. The song misses the promise of the rainbow. We miss teaching the kids about the promise of the rainbow. We want to teach them that God spared Noah and his family. We don’t focus on everyone on earth, but Noah, dying. We don’t focus on the rainbow. We focus on Noah and the animals.
We focus on God sparing life, because it is difficult to think about God destroying life. In the beginning, Chapter 1 and 2, of Genesis, we are told God created everything and called it good. Then, Chapter 3, sin creates a divide between Adam and Eve and God.
By Chapter 6, God is frustrated and angry. Humans have become so wicked God is at His wit’s end, ready to throw in the towel. God devises a plan and enlists Noah’s help. Noah and his family are righteous enough to be spared, but God is destroying every other human being.
I think we should ask ourselves the questions: How can God be the Creator and the Destroyer?
We’ll end up with some pretty dark theology if we spend too much time on that question. What we can take away from the story is that God did not start with a clean slate. God did not wipe out everyone and start over with a new Adam and Eve. God said there is someone worth redeeming and spares their lives. God preserved what gave Him hope.
If the salvation of Noah and his family wasn’t enough hope for us, God gives us the rainbow. God makes a covenant with Noah and his family and his descendants. God said: “never again will all life be destroyed.” We don’t hear if God is sorry or regrets what He did. God does, however, say that next time humanity becomes so wicked He will have a different response.
The next time, God’s response was Jesus. We know that God’s creatures had begun to disappoint Him yet again. Its not clear at what point God became frustrated again. We could say God became angry again at Sodom and Gomorrah when He destroyed those cities. We could say that God became frustrated when the Israelites were brought out of Egypt and started whining and complaining in the wilderness. We could say that God became angry when Temple worship was tainted and the Assyrians were sent into Israel to defeat the kingdom of God’s people.
Any way we look at it, God was frustrated for generations. His response was Jesus. God would offer redemption to all those who placed their faith in Jesus. God had hope for everyone and offered redemption for everyone who would repent and believe.
Even thousands of years after Jesus, God puts the rainbow in the sky to remind us that He will never again destroy all life. Why? Because, God said He will never again destroy all life. But, He never said anything about allowing us to destroy ourselves.
He never said He wouldn’t allow us to destroy ourselves.
He has hope for us, but we have the ability to destroy ourselves.
With all the hot zones and crises in the world, we have all been, on some level, fearful that we have the potential to destroy ourselves. With civil wars, land grabbing, and terrorism, we all know that another world war is possible. We know that within that war we have the potential of deploying nuclear and chemical weapons.
But, I don’t want to talk geopolitics. You came for a word on your spiritual life and the church. So, how do we destroy ourselves spiritually?
There are two ways we destroy ourselves and the church. First, we destroy the church by trying to be like another church. And, we destroy ourselves by burning ourselves out.
Let’s start with the church. I participated in a webinar yesterday about worship and renewing worship to be relevant and experiential. I always go into these conferences, seminars, and such hoping for a quick fix, easy answer, simple how-to guide. But, the facilitator said there is no one right answer. He did repeatedly say we can’t do something because we want to be like other churches and we can’t imitate another church. What works for the other church may not work for us.
Many churches are rethinking worship. They want the latest and greatest of all things, because that’s what we as a culture want. The latest and greatest. Churches are questioning if they are creating an experience that is meaningful to everyone. And, churches are asking, what can we do to provide an experience to draw in new people.
All these are questions worth asking. We are going to ask some of these questions within the goals of the new 3-year ministry plan. We are going to have some good conversations about our worship experience. At the heart of those conversations, we need to keep 2 points in mind:
1) What works for others may not work for us, and
2) If we make changes to our worship, we need to do it because we believe it will enhance our worship experience, not just because we think its what will draw in others.
Speaking of that 3-year ministry plan. The Board will, hopefully, approve our draft and we can move onto the next steps in implementing our plan. We have a little bit of work to do before the end of the year. We need to nominate leaders who will guide us in completing our tasks and being successful in reaching our goals. Which brings me to my second point.
We destroy ourselves by burning ourselves out. This is a conversation I’d like us to have in the next 2 months during our nominating process. How can we take care of ourselves, build in Sabbath, so we don’t get burn out and pull back? I have a few suggestions to begin those conversations, but I know you’ll have lots of ideas to bring to the Table.
What if the Board only met every other month?
What if the Elders and Deacons were given a year Sabbath?
What if committees didn’t do all the work and asked others who aren’t on committees to help with projects?
What if we discipled our youth and invited them to be on committees or help with projects?
What if we didn’t have 6 committees requiring roughly 30 committee members?
God has hope for us. He still places the rainbow in the sky as a sign that He will not destroy us. Perhaps it should also be a warning not to destroy ourselves. We have been redeemed by Jesus Christ. We have been spiritual gifts equipping us for our call to ministry. We have what it takes if we are good stewards of our time and energy. God will remember not to destroy, but will we remember?