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He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Dear Friends,

I hope that Saturday 30 th September is clealy marked in your diary as a red letter day: our Noah’s Ark Art Fesitval and Fair from 11-2 pm. It will be wonderful to see our church transformed into the setting of one of the best loved Bible tales.

The book of Genesis describes how the ark was built and how the animals crowded on, two by two. But there’s some information we’re not privy to, like what happened when the ark landed and Noah told the animals to go forth and multiply. Legend has it that they all set off – apart from two snakes who were huddled up in a corner crying. “What’s wrong” asked Noah. Sniffling, the snakes replied; “Noah, we can’t multiply… we’re adders.” 

Yes, Noah and his ark (complete with adders) is a perennial favourite, but it also has a dark side. As Dolly Parton put it; “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.” In the story “all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened” for forty days and forty nights (Genesis 7:11-12). What of those left behind? “All flesh died that moved on the earth. Only Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:21, 23)

Luckily the story has a happy ending – the everlasting covenant, symbolised by the rainbow. God promised that “the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:15) And yet the floodwaters are rising. As I write, the first tropical storm to hit California in 84 years, storm Hilary, is wreaking havoc. Major floods occurred at the beginning of August in Slovenia, Austria and Croatia. The Slovenian Prime Minister has said the estimated damage will cost €500 million. In July thousands were evacuated from their homes in Delhi when the levels of the Yamuna River reached a record high. Last year’s floods in Pakistan affected 33 million people. According to UNICEF more than 10 million people still have no access to safe drinking water.

Why is it happening? I don’t think we can lay the blame at the Creator’s door. As American environmentalist Paul Hawken states; “Most floods are caused by people, not weather; deforestation, levee construction, erosion and overgrazing all result in the loss of ecosystems.” And as UNICEF point out, “Climate-related crises will not affect everyone equally. Children will suffer more than adults, with those in the poorest communities bearing the biggest burden.”

As gospel – ‘good news’ – people, we have a divine duty to do what we can, however small it may seem, to make a positive difference. Indeed, the Bible is full of examples about the power of small things – think about David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Remember what Jesus said about the mustard seed – “It is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of all shrubs and becomes a tree.” (Matthew 13:31-32).

One of the things we can do is to support charities like Christian Aid. We can also make changes to our own lifestyles, cutting down on our energy use and making more ecologically friendly choices. As Martin Luther King reminds us, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

As we celebrate the story of Noah’s Ark, may we remember that care for the world is not an optional extra but a fundamental religious impertative. We can’t close our hearts to the suffering of our sisters and brothers on the other side of the world, for we are all in the same boat and we have a duty to care for each other. It’s significant that all types of creature managed to live side by side on the ark. “How did this happen?” a Jewish commentator was once asked. He answered: “Because otherwise they would drown.”

It is just the same for us. May Noah and his ark remind us that we all have an important part to play in God’s continuing story of salvation.

Esther and Jessie the Vicarage dog x

Read more from Esther and Jessie, in the September 23 Magazine
Revd. Esther Foss

Morning Prayer is back at 10.00 am every Wednesday – a Book of Common Prayer Said Service in the Lady Chapel. 

If you have a prayer request or would like more information, please do get in touch with Esther at St. Andrew’s Vicar or call 0203 620 1885.

Prayer for the Community – Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy.  Sustain and support the anxious, be with those who care for the sick, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may find comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ― G.K. Chesterton

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