Reflection on Genesis 7 & John 10:1-10
Sunday 3rd May 2020
In the late 19th Century the Scottish folklorist Alexander Carmichael travelled around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, collecting, recording and transcribing all sorts of prayers, poems, songs and blessings. These have their roots in early Celtic Christian communities between the 6th and 9th centuries and were published in the book he called the “Carmina Gadelica”, the Song of the Gaels.
These prayers cover just about every aspect of life – births and deaths, mealtimes and bedtimes, animals and weather, and everyday things like pulling up weeds or spinning wool – but one of the themes which runs throughout all these prayers is a trust in, or a longing for, God’s protection.
One of the prayers, a Charm For Fear By Night, is a good example:
Who is there on land? Who is there on wave?
Who is there on billow? Who is there by door-post?
Who is along with us? God and Lord.
Land and sea, wind and doorway, all of these would have held a certain amount of danger for those people eaking out their fragile, isolated existence in the wilds of western Scotland, and so the hope, the promise, that God was there with them would have been a great comfort.
Both of our Bible readings contain something of that same promise of God’s protection. Noah and his family had to hide themselves away in an ark in order to be safe from the rising floodwaters – an extreme form of social isolation! But in verse 16, after Noah and his family and all the animals are safely on board, we read this: “Then the Lord shut the door behind Noah”. It is God who closes the door to keep them safe.
And in our reading from John’s Gospel we see something similar. Jesus says “I am the gate for the sheep”. In those days, after closing off the entrance to the sheep pen with brambles, the shepherd would lie in front so that a thief would not be able to get past without waking them up. Jesus is the gate and we are the sheep, he lies in outside the door to keep us safe.
And so, like those early Celtic Christians on their Hebridean islands, we too put our trust in God’s protection. We know that whatever dangers lie without, whatever fears lurk within, Who is there by the door-post? Who is along with us? Our God and Lord.
Click below to listen to this week’s reflection as part of the service recorded for our Telephone Church Service