Day 5: A Covenant with Creation

Read closely God’s covenant to Noah: “As for me, I am establishing my covenant...
From the First Sunday’s lectionary text of Genesis 9:8-17 for the First Sunday in Lent, Year B
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
Genesis 9:8-11

Read closely God’s covenant to Noah: “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.” Now wait just a minute. I thought this was a story about us? Humans screwed up, Noah did alright, and so God tasked him with moving things forward. But humans aren’t the only object of this covenant. Did you notice that this covenant is with all of creation?

Should that really be so surprising? While Noah has been the main actor – the steward executing God’s instructions and gathering up the created order – plants and animals are affected by the flood just as much as humans. In fact, if you take the story at its word perhaps they’re the most affected. There is a lot more plant and animal life, in all its various forms, than there is human life.

But, of course, a human life counts for more. We’re the top dogs. So why is God not just making the covenant with us? Aren’t we the ones in charge of creation? Doesn’t it work for us? God seems to envision humanity and creation a bit differently. Creation is as much an agent and actor in history and in relationship with God as humans are. In fact, it’s not humanity and creation, but we are part of the same creative act, the same covenantal relationship. We are all creation.

Questions & Actions

  • It’s easy to view the reality of Christ as another rescue mission centered on humanity. But what if it too is a new covenant with all creation? Does this change the way you look at the world around you?
  • How might this view of creation inform this Lenten season? Does creation mourn, repent, fast, reflect, or turn to God as we do during this season?
  • Spend a few moments and read the whole of the lectionary text today’s devotional draws on: Genesis 9:8-17. What jumps out at you? What questions are raised?
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