Living on the Gulf Coast, you become deaf to the warnings. Threats constantly loom in the Gulf from June and November. When I first moved there, I obsessively checked weather sites, monitoring, projecting, guessing, hoping. Most of the time, storms go elsewhere; there’s a lot of coast to destroy. Even when they look like they might head your direction, they often turn aside or weaken at the last moment, a little wind and spit is all that’s left. Still, occasionally, it is prudent to evacuate. For those of us with salaries and vacation time, it was pretty easy to take off for an impromptu evacucation. All my coworkers kept lists of resorts and B&Bs within a couple hundred miles. But always the question: What do I pack? In theory, everything you own could be destroyed, but in reality you’ll probably be gone for a few days and return home with a few limbs to clean up. Pack for the end of the world or a vacation from the world? Will I need dress shoes? Or a belt? Noah’s packing list was pretty clear: toothpaste, toothbrush, two pairs of sandals (one black, one brown), forty changes of underwear, some snacks, and two of every creature on earth.
This was the end. He wasn’t coming back. The home he grew up in, the place he met his wife, the place where he proposed and she accepted, the place where his children were born, the swing set and the kitchen garden, the place he expected to die – all would soon be gone. Whatever there would be after, it would have to be something new. This was God’s do-over.
There’s a structure to the first creation account found in Genesis 1. The first three days establish the setting and the second three days add the characters. The story of Noah found here is a restatement of that. The ark – which is a box, not a boat – has three levels, mirroring the world with the heavens, the earth, and the deep. The ark is to contain all the animals and all the creeping things that creep on the earth, the same language that is used on the sixth day of creation. The ark and the world both hold all the food given by God for people and animals. Noah is making a little box that looks just like the world to put all the living things in, taking all that is good for life and packing it up to keep it safe.
What are some things from the past year that you would like to pack up and take with us? What has given you life from our time here?
What will things be like after? What are you looking forward to?
Through all of the changes and all of the moving, this church has proven to be a little box that gets packed up to create new life. It has been that for me. I know it has been that for others. But the one thing I want to pack up and take with me, the one thing I think necessary for life, is the people. There are people who started this church as a fully inclusive church and have stuck around to hold us to that. There are people who have just recently joined us, invigorating our efforts. And along the way, some people have stopped by on their way to somewhere else. Each has left a little bit of themselves and all of those bits have made us who we are. I would pack up all of it and keep it safe.
This is the last meal to steady us on our journey. It contains all that is necessary for life. The grain and the grape nourish our bodies. The gathering of our brothers and sisters nourishes our souls. God bless all of this for the fulfillment of your promise of life.