Sermon Father Aleksey delivered during the Pan-Orthodox Presanctified Liturgy at Christ the Saviour Orthodox Christian Church in Paramus, NJ.
The Bible is full of amazing stories. One of the most well-known stories is about the Great Flood. Humanity, the whole creation, became so wicked that God used the proverbial “reset button.”
People tend to complain that our times are wicked. Can you imagine how much worse and hopeless it must have been that the only way to fix it was to, essentially, wipe everything off?
The whole of the Old Testament – not only the books, but also the time period – all of it had one purpose – to prepare the creation to meet its Lord and Master. Looking back at the texts of the Old Testament, we can see that people and events, way back then, foretold and prefigured what will happen in our time.
For example, Noah’s Ark. It was a huge ship that saved Noah, his family, and the select animals. But it also prefigured something very different – the Church. We call the Church the Ark of Salvation. And it’s not just some poetic device – if you look at the church building architecturally, it looks like a ship.
For as long as Noah remained in the Ark, he was safe from the flood-waters. For as long as we remain in the Church, we are safe from the flood of wickedness.
There is a physical church building, set in a specific geographical location, with a specific community. And there is a Universal Church, made up of all the faithful. So, in the story of the Great Flood, the Church is prefigured in both of these ways: as a community of believers in one specific location and as the Ark of Salvation.
Noah and his family are this community, they are an actual family, just like our communities today are spiritual families. They escaped the flood of wickedness (and by the way, this story also shows us that wickedness leads to death, a horrible death), they escaped with a wood carrying them.
What else is made of wood? What else is the sign of salvation? Looking ahead to next Sunday – it’s the Cross – a piece of wood upon which Christ was crucified, upon which He died, and through which He went down into hell to defeat death and open the doors of His Kingdom to us.
Today, unfortunately, people who try to lead a Christian way of life might seem wicked or weird to the outside world. Perhaps as weird as Noah looked to everyone around him when he was building his Ark. But he kept his faith, and, as strange as it might have sounded at the time, he followed what God asked him to do.
Through his faith, Noah saved himself, his family, and the animals. And this is yet another prediction from the story of Great Flood – the whole creation will be saved through the children of God. Think about it, everything we have is a gift from God, including our physical bodies, the animals, and the nature. We have this great opportunity to take care of all these things. Through a human being, Adam, corruption was brought into this world; through his descendants, us, the whole creation can be used for its intended purpose – to glorify God our Creator.
Brothers and sisters, let us maintain the faith like Noah did, build family communities in one faith, and cling to the wood – the wood of the Ark of Salvation and the wood of the Cross. And, as we’ll hear Christ tell us next Sunday, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” Take up the cross, with all its joys and sorrows, and follow the Lord through the path which He Himself has already walked and prepared for us – the path of salvation.