Saturday, March 19, 2011
Lenten services focus on Biblical characters and faith in action
By LINDA M. LINONIS
The Lenten series at Good Hope Lutheran Church focuses on faith and how notable biblical figures such as Noah, Abraham and Moses demonstrated their faith through action.
The Rev. Bob Quaintance, pastor, and Susan Wessner, associate in ministry, lead the Wednesday worship and reflection services. Participants have reading assignments of Biblical passages that tie into the topic of the week. The overall theme is “By Faith.”
This week’s focus was “The Faith of Noah.” The Rev. Mr. Quaintance cited Genesis 5, which recounts the genealogy of the generations of Adam. Mentioned is Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah, who “walked with God” (Genesis 5:22). The pastor noted that Enoch, who lived to be 365 years old, is only one of two figures in the Bible to go directly from earth to heaven, escaping death. The other is Elijah, who went to heaven in a fiery chariot.
The idea of “walking with God” and inferences to the action are found in many passages in the Bible. The pastor said “walking with God” is the answer to “What is faith?” “It is a person desiring to live in the presence of God,” he said.
Mr. Quaintance said Noah’s contemporaries probably thought of him as their “crazy neighbor” once the ark building got under way. “People probably ridiculed Noah,” he said, adding that modern man is sometimes set apart from friends, family, school and work by a display of faith.
“Noah did what God asked but it wasn’t just him ... it was his family as well,” Mr. Quaintance said.
When Noah built the ark, as instructed by God, he used his unique talents and what he did was an expression of faith, Mr. Quaintance said. He likened what Noah did then to what the Fukushima 50 are doing at Japan’s damaged nuclear reactors. He noted one worker said he was staying, despite danger to himself, because it was his job. Mr. Quaintance said that man and his fellow workers were placing the greater good of the country before their own welfare.
One question on which to reflect is what in Noah’s story gives the reader hope. Mr. Quaintance said, “Through Noah, God saved the world. It shows how one person can make a difference.”
The lesson of Noah is symbolized in the chapel’ stained- glass window in featuring a rainbow and dove. Morning Lenten Series services are in the chapel. The rainbow after the floodwaters receded is something both Noah and God see, Mr. Quaintance said. God tells Noah the rainbow is a “token of a covenant between us,” that is, a reminder and promise that God won’t destroy the earth.
Wessner said the Lenten journey continues what was begun at the Ash Wednesday service. Members brought candles to the church, where they were lighted for the service. People then took their candle back to their homes. “It’s a symbol of taking Christ home,” Wessner said.
She added that the Bible passage to read in preparation for the weekly gathering at the church also promote family time at home. These discussions, she said, draw different ideas from the same passage. “It’s about how the Bible speaks to you,” she said.
Wessner said Lent provides a special time for a concentrated effort of repentance, fasting, prayer and works of love. “It’s spiritual warfare,” she said of the struggle. But, she added, this time helps us carry out the Lenten discipline throughout the year.
She added that the Lenten reflections on how Noah, Abraham, Moses and the Israelites showed faith as an action are examples for everyone. The readings, she said, demonstrate faith in action.