The Genesis reading outlines the covenant of God with Noah. It is one of a number of covenants, which share some similarities with treaties of the time, recorded in the Bible. This covenant is important in its breadth to all living things, “…between me and the earth.” There is an opportunity here to explore what the Bible brings to the ecological debates of the time and responses such as Extinction Rebellion.
Water is a prominent symbol in three out of the four readings. Water can be a conflicted image in the Bible. It can be a symbol of both chaos and life. Contrasting photos of the dangerous and life giving aspects of water might be useful.
It is recommended that the baptismal font should always be visible in a Uniting Church worship space – this Sunday it should be front and centre. Running your hand into the water and out is a useful action when talking about the images of baptism in either 1 Peter or Mark.
When allocated this Sunday in the past I have encouraged the congregation to participate in a remembrance of baptism. In these days of Covid 19 maybe members of the congregation could be given small bottles of water as they arrive and be encouraged to use these to access water for their remembrance by dabbing the back of their hand or elsewhere and making the sign of the cross. This water can go with people as they leave and continue to bring life and remembrance as it is consumed.
We are familiar with gentle images of the Holy Spirit, but Mark here has, “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness?” What do we make of this?
While wilderness in the Middle East shares with wilderness in Tasmania the contrast between the built environment and the natural environment, it looks, smells and feels quite different. Compare and contrast photos might be helpful. Note the connection between the covenant with Noah and the wild beasts of Mark.