God Preserves Creation (INT Shell I-1)

God Preserves Creation

A Reading from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 9, Verses 8 through 13. [NRSV]

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

Reader: The Word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.

God’s Covenant with Noah

We know the story of Noah.  Genesis chapter 6, tells how the world that God created became corrupted, and God wanted to purge His creation of all living things.  However, God saw that Noah and his family were good. God commanded Noah to build an ark large enough to hold Noah, his family, and two of every living thing, one male and one female. God gave Noah specific instruction.  We remember the "cubits."  The ark was to  have a length of three hundred cubits, a width fifty cubits, and a height thirty cubits. Also, God told Noah that he and his family were to gather food to feed themselves and the other living things in their care.  Noah and his family did as God commanded.

Chapter 7 of Genesis tells about the loading of the ark and the Great Flood.  God made sure that Noah and his family had all of the provision that they would need for themselves and the animals.  God shut them in the ark.  The rain fell for forty days, and "the waters swelled on the earth for one hundred fifty days"[Genesis 7:24].  Everything that lived on dry land and breathed air died except for those locked in the ark.

In chapter 8, tells the story of renewal.  Noah sent out a dove to see of the land was dry.  The dove found no place to land and returned to the ark.  Later Noah sent out the dove again, and it returned with a twig from an olive tree.  From the olive twig, Noah knew that the land was drying and the plants of the land were recovering from the flood.  Then Noah waited a week and sent out the dove again.  This time the dove did not return, which told Noah that the land and plants had recovered enough for the dove to live without Noah's help. When the land was renewed,  God told Noah and his family to release the animals and to leave the ark so that all living things might "abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth” [Genesis 8:17].  Noah and his family freed the animals, left the ark, and gave thanks to God for saving themselves and all the living things from the flood.  Noah's thanks pleased God so that God promised Noah to never again destroy all of the earth by flood.

Frequently, Noah's story ends with just a short statement from chapter 9 about the rainbow being a sign of God's promise to Noah at the end of chapter 8.  However, chapter 9 of Genesis may be the most important part of Noah's story.  In chapter 9, God creates the covenant with humankind.  There are two parts to covenant.  The second part is the most familiar: "I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth" [Genesis 9:11].  That is God's part of the covenant.  Humankind's part of the covenant is to be good stewards of the earth and to respect human life:

I give you everything. 4 Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.

6 Whoever sheds the blood of a human,
by a human shall that person’s blood be shed;
for in his own image
God made humankind.

7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.”
[Genesis 9:4-7]

These verses may be a little difficult to understand.  Verse 9:3 is easy.  God is giving everything to humankind.  Verse 9:4 refers to proper care in eating the bounty of the world.  Verse 9:5 refers to the respect for human life.  A later version of this is "Thou shall not murder" [Exodus 20:13].  Verse 9:6 specifies that man, rather than God, will punish shedding of human blood.  Verse 9:7 gives us instructions about being good stewards of the earth. We are to be fruitful and multiply, but we can only be fruitful and multiply, if we take good care of our environment.

The sign of this covenant is the rainbow.  God set His bow in the sky to remind Him and us of the covenant that started with Noah.  Now each time you see a rainbow and admire its beauty, you can also remember that it is a symbol of our covenant with God. Noah agreed for us that we would be thankful for what God gave us and take good care of it.

Story Questions

Once God told Noah that everyone and everything could leave the ark, Noah gave thanks to God.  Since Noah was thankful that he and his family had lived and that the earth would be bountiful once more, he gave thanks to God.

A symbol represents an idea or quality.

The dove returning with an olive leaf or twig.  The dove returning represented that the land was not yet dry enough to support creatures.  The olive leaf was a symbol that life was returning to the land.

A covenant is a promise or agreement.

The rainbow is a symbol because it represents the covenant that God made with Noah and us. In Noah's story, the covenant is made between God, Noah, and all of Noah's descendants.  God promised to never again destroy all creatures by flood, and God expects us to respect each other and our environment.  The rainbow is to remind us and God of this covenant.

What about Now?

Picture of a fire in a rainforest.

Debris and Oil Refinery in Texas

Are we being good stewards of all that God has given us?

Word Scramble Puzzle

The following scrambled words can be found in Genesis 9:8-17. Next to each word is the number of the specific vers in which it may be found. Unscramble each word and write your answer on a sheet of paper. The answers for each scrambled word is hidden below the word. To see the answer, click on the scrambled word.

creature

covenant

established

descendants

clouds

clouds

sign

ark

bow

flood

Noah

living

A Song of Creation

"A Song of Creation" Benedicite, omnia opera Domini from BCP 88-90
(Invocation)

Glorify the Lord, all you works of the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

(I The Cosmic Order)

Glorify the Lord, you angels and all powers of the Lord, *
      O heavens and all waters above the heavens.
Sun and moon and stars of the sky, glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, every shower of rain and fall of dew, *
      all winds and fire and heat.
Winter and Summer, glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold, *
drops of dew and flakes of snow.
Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O nights and days, *
      O shining light and enfolding dark.
Storm clouds and thunderbolts, glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

(II The Earth and its Creatures)

Let the earth glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O mountains and hills,
and all that grows upon the earth, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas, and streams, *
      O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O beasts of the wild, *
      and all you flocks and herds.
O men and women everywhere, glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

(III The People of God)

Let the people of God glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
Glorify the Lord, O priests and servants of the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
You that are holy and humble of heart, glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

(Doxology)

Let us glorify the Lord: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
In the firmament of his power, glorify the Lord, *
      praise him and highly exalt him for ever.

Note to Adult

“God Preserves Creation” introduces the concept of covenant through the story of Noah. This ancient narrative underscores God's reaching out to humanity. After the great Flood, which was an act of judgment upon a wicked world, God promised the obedient Noah that there would never again be such a wholesale destruction. The rainbow is a sign of God's promise. (Genesis 9:8-13)

Sources

Curriculum -- https://www.vts.edu/lifelong-learning/christian-formation-and-discipleship/resources-and-curriculum/episcopal-childrens-curriculum/shell---intermediate
NRSV -- New Revised Standard Version Bible
A Song of Creation video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFdZ2axtaUU
Dankgebet nach Verlassen der Arche Noah by Domenico Morelli (4 August 1823 – 13 August 1901): https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Domenico_Morelli_Noahs_Dankgebet.jpg
Photo of Port Arthur,TX, September 17,2008 -- Debris lines the side of a road near an oil refinery in Port Arthur,TX left in the wake of Hurricane IKE. Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMA: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FEMA_-_38406_-_Debris_and_an_oil_refinery_in_Texas.jpg
Featured image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Noah%27s_Ark._Stained-glass_window_at_Church_of_Our_Savior,_MCC_(Metropolitan_Community_Church),_2011_South_Federal_Hwy,_Boynton_Beach,_Florida.jpg

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