2023 Daily Lenten Journey – Day 19
This week’s Daily Lenten Journey was completely focused on the story of Noah, the Flood, the Ark and God’s plan for our salvation. Yesterday’s blog focused on how God NEVER forgets us. Today we hear what happens when Noah remembered God.
And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat. And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put forth his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she did not return to him any more. In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. Then God said to Noah, “Go forth from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring forth with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh – birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth – that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply upon the earth.” So Noah went forth, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. And every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves upon the earth, went forth by families out of the ark. Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And when the LORD smelled the pleasing odor, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done.”Genesis 8.14-21
After the better part of a year, Noah and his family leave the Ark with all the animals. Instead of running around and enjoying dry ground, he remembers God. The very first thing Noah did was build and altar to God and make an offering to Him. He even used some of the ‘clean animals’ God had provided on the Ark.
So, here we are three weeks into Great Lent. Sunday is the half-way point, and we hear about giving thanks to God by building and altar and making an offering to Him. How many of us give thanks to God by building and altar and making an offering to Him. Noah’s act of worship set the tone for all humanity moving forward. Since that moment, the best way to thank God is to worship Him.
Here is where we Orthodox see things differently than our western brothers and sisters. We already know that many in the west consider the Flood as God’s punishment rather than His salvation. They also have come to believe that worshipping God means singing a few hymns, reading scriptures and hearing a good sermon.
For Noah, worship meant making an offering to God. In our desire to ‘return to the beginning’ during our 2023 Daily Lenten Journey, that means rethinking how we give thanks to God. We don’t ‘just say thanks’ and continue with our day. Worship was liturgical.
I know what you are thinking. What does God need with a burnt offering? For that matter, what does He need with a ‘simple thank you’ from us lowly humans? He doesn’t need anything from us. WE are the ones who have a need to give Him something. He is the creator of the universe. Everything is already His. When we give Him an offering from His creation, we are giving Him His own gift in return from the gift of life and salvation that He gave us.
“When the Lord smelled the pleasing odor,” He promised never again to curse the earth. After all. He saved the earth and us. Why would He curse us?
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