Prepare for Re-entry

Prepare for Re-entry

In the week of the first anniversary of the first national lockdown due to COVID-19 and as the current lockdown restrictions begin to ease, I sense that it is good for us  consider how we being to prepare ourselves for re-entry into the ‘new normal’ – as individuals, churches and society.

To help us to do this, I’m drawing on the Biblical account of Noah and in particular how he and his household emerged from more than a year in lockdown aboard the ark.

Noah – But that’s just a myth isn’t it?

It isn’t necessary to believe that there was literally a global flood to draw lessons from the story of Noah.  Scientific study of God’s creation and modern archaeology both challenge a literal interpretation of the idea that there a flood that covered the whole earth. But there are numerous flood stories in Babylonian and other cultures and it is possible that there was some kind of regional flood which covered the known world of those living in the Middle East.

Like other passages in Genesis 1-11, known as the ‘primeval narratives’, it is important remember that whilst the bible is written for all of us, these passages were not written TO us.  They were framed in a way which the people living in ancient times could relate to. The style of literature they were used to wasn’t literal or a historical account, and the account takes place within their understanding of cosmology and geography.  This doesn’t mean though that it is a human invention or that the account doesn’t carry important insights about God’s dealings with humans and rest of creation.

The three stages of Noah’s re-entry

We read the account of Noah’s re-entry in Genesis chapters 8 and 9.  Key points to note.

Genesis 8:1 – ‘But God remembered Noah’.

After 12 long months adrift on the seas, it must often have seemed to Noah and his family that there was no hope.   Were they doomed to live the rest of their lives in lockdown?  But God had mercy and remembered them and the flood waters receded.  He blew by his spirit (the Hebrew for wind and spirit in this passage are the same word).

Noah’s re-entry then had three main steps:

  1. God commanded him to come out of lockdown in the ark
  2. Noah consecrated himself afresh to the Lord making a sacrifice of some of the clean animals from the ark.
  3. Noah began to cultivate the land to obey God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.

Come out

We have very different experiences of the last 12 months. Some of us have gone to work as normal, others have been shielding and rarely left our homes.  For some of us, coming out of lockdown restrictions and interacting with people again face to face may be a scary prospect.  The vaccine offers some comfort but we may experience a kind of culture shock as live gets busier again.

Some people who have been on the frontline and those who have lost relatives to COVID-19 will need time to grieve and recover.

God’s command is to come out, to re-emerge and re-engage and to trust him with the plans he has for our futures.

As we do this, it is good to consider what we have learnt in lockdown that we want to keep hold of as well as what hasn’t been good and which we need to let go of.

Discussion points on coming out

For example, many of us have learned to make more effective of digital technology and ways of connecting virtually.  How do we build on this in the way we are church in future.  Can we broadcast our sermons in future?  Should we have a much stronger on-line presence? Are there ways of making disciples on-line?

Some of us had had more contact with our neighbours than before.  How do we build on these relationships.  We may have developed a stronger sense of our local community.  What does God want us to do to build on this?

Perhaps the reality of a global crisis has come home to us for the first time.  How might we use this experience to be more active on issues such as climate change?

The pandemic has opened up tensions between the generations. Many young people feel that they have made huge sacrifices to protect those of us who are older from a disease which discriminates by age.  How can we build inter-generational solidarity as a church as hopefully we now we emerge from the pandemic?


In Genesis 8:20 we read that Noah built an ark and made sacrifices to the Lord.  The aroma pleased God and he made a promise (covenant) never to flood the earth again.

Discussion Points on Consecration

As we emerge from lockdown restrictions, how might we celebrate God’s mercy and deliverance? 

Is there a place for the churches in Penarth to call a day of prayer of thanks for deliverance at some point?

Or maybe Stanwell (perhaps with Eden) should mark this in some way in our own service(s)?  Could we have a special event that we invite the community to thank God – that he hasn’t forgotten us, for the vaccine, for the ‘flood waters’ of the pandemic receiving.


In Genesis 8 and then again in chapter 9 God commands Noah and his sons to multiply, be fruitful and fill the earth.  He gives them authority over the rest of creation. This both re-states his command to Adam and foreshadows Jesus’s command to his disciples to go into all the world making disciples in the authority he gives us and in the knowledge that he is with us always, even to the ends of the earth. 

We read in Genesis 9:20 that in response ‘Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to play a vineyard’.

Discussion Points on Consecration

What is your ‘vineyard’?  What has God equipped you – in terms of your gifts and passions – to cultivate as we emerge from lockdown?

Which communities are you called to serve?  What is your mission field?

And the same questions for Stanwell Church – which ministries does the church pick up again where it left off?  And what new opportunities are there? 

Is there fallow ground that we need to be ploughing up and making productive again 0r for the first time (see Jeremiah 4:3) – in our lives and in our church?

Steve Martin

17th March 2021

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