Encounter

Genesis 9:8-17

Today we have the story of Noah, well actually the ending of the story. I want to take you back though to the beginning of this story. What would it have been like to be on the ark? Here you are with only your wife, two sons and their wives, and all those animals on this big boat in the middle of water. Water as far as the eye can see. Imagine the boat creaking and your being pitched to and fro as the storm is driving no more rain down. What would it be like to realize there are no life boats, no way to survive if the big boat should creak apart? Would your faith in God increase? Would you pray more? Would you expect to have more God encounters for reassurance?

See today we read just the ending, the story of the promise out in the sky in the form of a rainbow, another God encounter for Noah and his family. The thing about all of these people in Genesis is their God encounters, their faith that in the midst of desert places God is somehow still with them. The encounters are examples to us of what it is to have faith amidst trying and hard circumstances and how watching, waiting, trusting, and even bargaining brings us into these God encounters.

Now from here I could go on to explain circumstances that bring us to God, our own deserts or vast oceans, but I've done that before. This time I would rather take us to another discussion about God encounters. The Rev. Becca Stevens in her book  Funeral for a Stranger asks this question about heaven saying we all have a picture of meeting family and friends, but we don't ever talk about encountering God, what would it be like to throw ourselves into the arms of love? We seem to avoid the talk of a God encounter, we don't even seem to expect it. We stay on the comfortable shore of talking about friends and family and skip over the fact that we might experience something more substantive. Maybe its because we don't see ourselves as worthy, maybe its because we are afraid, and maybe its because we are unsure of the mystery itself and like to be in control, whatever it is we stop short of the deeper questions and places of a God encounter.

The brothers at the Saint John the Evangelist are doing a series on time for Lent and one of them put our busyness this way. We fill up our time in order to keep God conveniently away in a corner. We push God away to the edges not wanting a God encounter. During Lent we usually give Io things, but I'd like us to add something, time for us to think about why we shy away from a God encounter. What keeps us from delving deeper into the mystery of God? Do we allow ourselves desert time to realize who we are dependent on and who provides for us? Do we ask the deeper questions of faith that lead us into relationship with God? How can we do this? The invitation is there may we go forth.