I’ve never liked Noah. The story, rather, not Noah himself.
So, I guess I should say I've never liked the Story of the Flood. Almost every religion has one, an ancient cultic flood story.
In Illuminated Pages Bible Art Journaling, we’re in a series of random passages wherever a tree is mentioned, so I took the risk of the flood story because of a feature character in the story:
Curiously enough, in this story, technically it is just a leaf. It says, the dove returned with a “freshly picked olive leaf”, [hence "the tree" since an olive leaf comes from an olive tree.]
So, in my art journaling I found some peace, maybe joy, definite satisfaction, in the part where God makes covenant with the earth.
A Promise to creation itself.
“Never again will I curse the ground on account of man.”
And the rainbow, as we all know, is the sign of the promise.
Just 3 sentences later, the next chapter opens with “Eden-story” language all over again:
“God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them: be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”
God covenants with creation and then trusts us, all over again, to live here,
on fresh-from-the-flood land, like in Genesis, when God parted the waters, and brought forth the land.
Its creation all over again.
Dry land emerges.
And God sets humanity, on the ground, in the middle of it all.
I’m seeing this bible story: Locally.
Globally, but locally.
Our partnership with the earth.
Our want to restore people into covenant with God and the creation. And to, likewise, be restored. It’s part of "the ministry of reconciliation” ~ which interestingly enough ~ is the mission statement for the Episcopal Church, itself.
The Earth, in Sandy Springs, is scarred with a pipeline running right through the middle, and we, here at Highpoint, have reestablished fruitfulness. Life with a garden, a community garden, a gleaners’ garden no less, (a Leviticus initiative) that invites ‘the poor’, (which is to say, the ones outside of a faith community), to find food.
For a myriad of reasons, culturally, people have left church, and find church to be irrelevant, or inconvenient, spiritually uninspiring, or generally misguided.
We are inviting people who have lost interest in, or grown weary of, the complexities of church life, or who have never wanted super-organized religion, (i.e. the church), and people who consider themselves to be spiritual but not religious, to find a spiritual home in our faith community, by meeting under the trees at 4:00, on the fourth Sunday of every month.
We are inviting these, all and any, to the meeting circle in the woods at the top of the knoll on High Point Road.
"Church of the Woods" is not a gimmick.
It is our freshly picked olive leaf, because we know there is a tree in there somewhere.
A tree from which the whole world knows, the olive branch extends.
We are inviting these, all and any, who find themselves to be without a community, or outside of a faith community, to be part of this community based solely on
our common humanity,
our common need,
our common love, for the fruit of the earth.
In the spirit of peace and reconciliation with all creation, because God thought it was worth the risk,
Reverend Ruth Pattison
Rev. Pattison serves the people of Highpoint Episcopal Community Church as the Parson, exercising her gifts for collaborative leadership through preaching, liturgy, and the pastoral arts.