October 2019

Originally published in the King’s Stanley Magazine.

Autumn is here in all its glory and splendour. Churches are celebrating with their harvest festival services and giving thanks to God.

One aspect of these services is the Christian affirmation that God is faithful, that God is to be trusted. It is common to refer to a promise recorded in Genesis chapter 8, verse 22, which goes: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Christians often then say, “God keeps his promises, just look around you for the evidence.”

This line comes at the end of the story of Noah and the flood, so beloved and well known. One important feature of the story is that Noah alone trusts God’s warning and builds the ark. Then there is also God’s motive: the general wickedness of humanity. A fresh start is called for. These darker aspects of the story are generally ignored – quite rightly, some may think.

Let us take some aspects of ‘Noah and the flood’ and use them to reflect on our present situation, on trust and truth, and on their flipsides, distrust and lies.

Why do people tell lies?

One clear reason is to escape punishment. Another is in the hope that people might think that they are telling the truth. A third reason is perhaps the most pernicious. The lie is justified because of what it could achieve, if it is believed.

Yet a harvest time question to consider is this: what happens if lies are sowed?

Some will be able to answer from personal experience. Others will reflect on a time when they felt that they had to stand up for truth. Those who are or have been parents will recall their efforts to cultivate truthfulness in their children.

When it comes to all the wrangling going on at present, a large number of people have simply given up. They say, “Just get it done, we’re completely fed up.” Or, “We couldn’t care less about these lies, you can’t trust any of them anyway.”

Some Christians look to God and his trustworthiness, effectively saying, “We’ll just leave it all to God.”

That sounds good, but it misses the point made by Noah actually building the boat. Just “leaving it to God” would have meant that everybody would have drowned.

So this is a plea: whatever your views, whether you think both sides have lied or only one, follow the ongoing debate so that the approaching opportunity to vote is one that we welcome, one that we have an informed opinion about.

Meanwhile we and the other churches in the area offer you a welcome Sunday by Sunday as we celebrate God’s love in Creation, His love in Jesus Christ, and His love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

Autumnal greetings,

Robert Draycott

About Robert Draycott

After training at Regent's Park College Oxford for the Baptist Ministry I was ordained in 1976. My first Church was Wollaston in Northamptonshire. Then our whole family moved to Brasil where I served with the BMS in a variety of roles including teaching Theology and Biblical studies in Campo Grande. From 1992 -2010 I was Chaplain and Head of RS at Eltham College. I was Interim Minister of Eltham URC 2012-14, before moving to Gloucester in 2015.
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