Noah – 13 April 2020
Here is image from a well-known story. Noah, in his ark, releases a dove over the waters of the flood to see if dry land is appearing. Only one window in the ark has opened, to allow Noah to lean out and release the bird. Inside the ark, not seen, are the rest of his family and all of the animals. They have been shut inside for some considerable time. It is a sign of Noah’s faith and trust in God that even though there is no indication yet of relief, he sends out the dove in hope. The dove will fly over the waters, and then finding no place to rest will return to Noah and the ark. The inhabitants will have to wait longer to be delivered from this flood.
The image here is from a mosaic in St Mark’s Basilica, Venice (11th – 13th centuries). The water is high, with no hint of dry land, the ark is a solid vessel of safety.
Through the history of the church the flood (initially forty days) was understood as a metaphor or type for Lent, the ark itself an image of the church. This picture is a reminder that in the story of the flood in Genesis, Noah, his family and all the animals had a long wait before they were released. The waiting time was a test of their trust in the promises of God, they had to believe that new life was coming, even though in the present there was no sign.
At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent out the raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent out the dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set its foot, and it returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took it and brought it into the ark with him.
Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;