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October 24, 2021

Year 2 - Week 8 (October 24 - 30)

Day 1 (Monday)

Genesis 8:1-22

These last several weeks we have been leading up to the great Flood that came upon the world in the time of Noah. Last week we saw the Flood finally arrive, after God gathered the animals and had all of them go aboard the Ark with Noah and his family. Before the Flood began, God gave a final warning, and left the door of the Ark open for seven days before the rain began to fall, so that anyone willing to repent and be saved could enter the Ark. After the seven days, God closed the door, and the Flood began. It rained for 40 days. Today we will see how the Flood ends.

The Flood Subsides

8 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided; 2 the fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained, 3 and the waters receded from the earth continually.

At the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters had abated; 4 and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest upon the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, 7 and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; 9 but the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put forth his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him.

10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 11 and the dove came back to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12 Then he waited another seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she did not return to him any more.

13 In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry. 14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry. 15 Then God said to Noah, 16 “Go forth from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.

17 Bring forth with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh—birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth—that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply upon the earth.” 18 So Noah went forth, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 And every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves upon the earth, went forth by families out of the ark.

God’s Promise to Noah

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing odor, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out the timeline, that the time from when the rain began until the Ark came to rest on the mountain was 150 days, and then another 73 days until they saw the top of other mountains, and then 40 days until Noah sent out first the raven, which didn’t return, and the dove, which did, and then another seven days until he sent out the dove the second time, when it brought back the olive branch, and then a final seven days until he sent it out the last time, and it didn’t return. It was then (finally) the first day of the new year that he took the cover off the ark because the earth was no longer underwater, and not until the end of the 2nd month that they all finally left the ark. So they were on the ark for 40 days with rain, 110 floating, 73 aground until they could see other mountains, 40 until he sent out the raven and dove, 7 until he sent out the dove and it came back with the olive branch, and 7 until it didn’t come back at all, which would have been the 24th day of the 11th month, and almost to the New Year, when they took off the cover on the Ark. But in total, they were on the Ark for over a year, from the 17th day of the 2nd month of one year until the 27th day of the 2nd month in the next year. That’s a long time to be on a boat. It’s important also to note God’s promise not to destroy everything on the earth again, for as long as the earth itself remains, and to note that Christ’s coming as a human being, taking our created nature upon Himself, is a guarantee of this; God is committed to SAVING the world, instead of destroying it.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Prayer for the Oil from the Baptismal Service + An Explanation of the Dove and Olive from St. Bede the Venerable

For Day 2 this week, we will read two separate selections connecting the dove and the olive branch that we saw on Day 1 with the life of the Church. The first selection is from the service of Baptism, and comes right before the baptismal immersion takes place, as the one who is coming to be baptized is anointed with oil.

The other selection is from a sermon preached by St. Bede, a saint of northern England who lived from 673 to 735. He wrote many things, including a history of the English Church from its conversion on, but in his own time, he was best known for the many commentaries and sermons that he wrote. This excerpt is one that he preached on the Gospels, and as we read, you will see the connection.

Prayer for the Oil (from the Baptismal Service)

O Lord and Master, the God of our Fathers, who sent to those in Noah’s Ark a dove carrying a twig of olive in its beak as a symbol of reconciliation and of deliverance from the Flood; who through these signs prefigured the mystery of grace; who supplied the fruit of the olive for the fulfilment of your holy Sacraments-and through it filled with the Holy Spirit those who were under the Law and made perfect those under grace; bless this oil through the power and energy and visitation of the Holy Spirit, so that it may become an anointing of incorruption, a weapon of justice, a renewal of soul and body, a defense against every influence of the Devil, and a release from evil, to all those who are anointed with it in faith, or partake of it, to your glory, and that of your only-begotten Son, and your all- holy and good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.

St. Bede the Venerable on the Dove, the Olive Branch, the Ark, and the Church

After Noah sent the raven, he sent a dove, and it came to him in the evening, carrying in its mouth an olive branch with green leaves.
You are paying attention, I believe, and with your intellect you anticipate me as I speak. The olive branch with green leaves is a figure of the grace of the Holy Spirit, rich in the words of life, the fullness of which rests upon Christ, as the psalm says, “God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.”

Concerning this gift given to Christ’s fellows, John speaks: “You have the anointing from the holy one, and you know all things.”13 And by a most beautiful conjunction the figure is in agreement with the fulfillment—a corporeal dove brought the olive branch to the ark which was washed by the waters of the flood; the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a corporeal dove upon the Lord when he was baptized in the waters of the Jordan.

Not only the human beings but also the living things which the ark contained, and also the very wood from which the ark was made, prefigure us members of Christ and of the church after our reception of the washing of the waters of regeneration. Through the anointing of the sacred chrism may we be signed with the grace of the Holy Spirit, and may he deign to keep it inviolate in us who himself gave it [to us], Jesus Christ our Lord who with the almighty Father in the unity of the same Holy Spirit lives and reigns for all ages. Amen.

HOMILY 1.12.
Louth, A., & Conti, M. (2001). Genesis 1–11 (pp. 145–146). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should point out the these two sources are drawing different lessons from the same text. The prayer from Baptism associates the olive branch and the dove with reconciliation between God and humanity, since the dove with the olive was a sign that the Flood was ending and the judgment was over, and then makes use of the oil of the olive as the final preparation for Baptism, in water, we should notice, which perfectly reconciles us to God, as we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and made members of His body, the Church. The quote from St. Bede instead focuses on the Dove hovering above the waters, and makes a connection between the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove when Jesus was baptized and our own receiving of the Holy Spirit when we are baptized. Both selections, however, make a connection between the Ark and the Flood and the Dove and the Olive and the Church and Baptism and the grace that we receive in being brought into the Church.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 3 (Friday)

Mark 2:23-28; 3:1-12

Last time we saw the Lord call Levi to be one of his disciples, and then begin to have conflict with the religious authorities about how His disciples were not fasting and behaving in the way that the Pharisees thought that they should. This sort of conflict will continue in today’s passage, as the Lord heals on the Sabbath Day, and the Pharisees criticize Him for “doing work” on the Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week on which God rested at the Creation, and on which the Hebrew people were commanded to observe a strict rest. This connects with what Jesus said about clothing patches and wineskins last week, but becomes more pronounced.

Pronouncement about the Sabbath

23 One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26 He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.”

The Man with a Withered Hand

3 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward.” 4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.

5 He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.

A Multitude at the Seaside

7 Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; 8 hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. 9 He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; 10 for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. 11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” 12 But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should note that the conflict over the Sabbath is ultimately about a misunderstanding of who God is. The Pharisees think that God is arbitrary and legalistic, and cares only that His rules are carried out. Jesus is pointing out that the point of the Sabbath is to honor God, which we do most clearly by loving one another and doing what is right. The point is NOT that God doesn’t care at all about what we do…it’s that we have a responsibility to actually serve God, and not just follow a few rigid rules that make no sense. We have to actually love God and love our fellow human beings.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?