One morning, thirty plus years ago, my mother told me that there was a surprise for me in the playroom at home. She had made a Noah’s ark for me with pairs of assorted animals in felt. Mr and Mrs Noah were there to look after them and keep them safe in a splendid ark constructed out of card, fabric and wallpaper.
As the film Noah sets sail on the big screen interest in the story of the ark is back. Only last year I was pondering the story, myself, as I gazed upon the twin snow-covered of Ararat where the ark is said to have come to rest. The story of Noah building an ark to escape from a flood almost certainly has an historical kernel to it. The story is set in Mesopotamia, which was a river-fed land where both bad and good floods happened. There are also many other ancient versions of a flood story, including the recently deciphered Simmonds Tablet (dating from 1750 BC). The Simmonds Tablet describes a round ark, which makes a lot of sense, since we know the ancient Mesopotamians used coracles to travel in and to ride out the periodic floods.
The story of the ark continues to delight children, but is also very special to Christians. If you have ever taken the train to Brighton you will also have seen that great brick Victorian church of St Bartholomew. It is locally known as the Ark, because of the legend that it was built according to the specifications of Noah’s boat.
More importantly Armenian Christians regard Ararat, which is on the edge of Armenia, as being a sacred mountain. The domes of their churches and the traditional high hood, worn by their clergy, are both designed to resemble it. They view the saving of life in the ark and the beginning of new life, at Mount Ararat, as paralleling the way that Christ gave new life to all, through his victory on the cross at the Mount of Calvary
Of course we also refer to new christened people as entering into the ‘ark of Christ’s Church’. If Noah’s ark was a place of welcome and security, so becoming a Christian helps us to ride out the storms and challenges of life. Just like Noah we can be confident that God has a care and a love for us all.
Posted By: valerie