Before starting, the meeting host should print out enough copies of this page (click on green printer icon above) for everyone in the group.
After general introductions, word of welcome and review of guidelines for small groups the meeting host will:
1. Invite someone to read the daily devotion printed below aloud.
2. Read the following introduction to the full text aloud:
In today's reflection for the second day of Advent, Rev. Vince Amlin writes on the Advent theme of "waiting" and connects it to the experience of Noah in the ark, "cooped up in a floating zoo for forty days." He talks about our "seasons of tragic waiting" and how healing may happen during that time, even though it’s tempting to seek resolution prematurely.
3. Read the full text again (below): Genesis 8: 6-12
6 Then it came about at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; 7 and he sent out a raven, and it [b]flew here and there until the water was dried up [c]from the earth.8 Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; 9 but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark, for the water was on the [d]surface of all the earth. Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself. 10 So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark. 11 The dove came to him toward [e]evening, and behold, in her [f]beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth.12 Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again.
4. Take a minute or two for silent contemplation.
5. As a group, reflect on the following questions (remember to refrain from cross-talk):
What word, phrase or image jumps out at you from this reading? Everyone shares without commentary.
What’s God saying to you in this passage? (remember to refrain from cross talk)
What is the call to action for you and/or for our faith community? (feel free to engage in group conversation when discussing calls to action).
6. Close the meeting by praying the Lord’s Prayer together.
"He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more." Genesis 8:10-12
Comedy, they say, equals tragedy plus time. The comedian who misjudges those variables may find the crowd turning against her with cries of "too soon!" Noah, I'm sure, couldn't sing "Rise and Shine" for years after the flood.
It's no accident that the story of the ark shows up during this season of waiting and hope. What better symbol of the pain of patient expectation than a man cooped up in a floating zoo for forty days? It's a wonder Noah can hold off a week between dove releases.
In our personal tragedies, too, we can be tempted to seek resolution and healing prematurely. It's uncomfortable to be off balance and at sea, to live with a constant reminder of all that we've lost. But if we try to exit the ark too soon, to get on with our lives like normal, we soon find ourselves drowning.
Like the world that waits in Advent for redemption, in the darkness of the ark, God is working. In our seasons of tragic waiting, in ways we may not immediately recognize, we are being healed and brought back to solid ground.
Until then, we just have to hunker down in the ark and think, "Someday I will laugh at this."
Great Transformer, may these tears of grief become tears of joy in your time.