Noah waits a further seven days and then sends out the dove again, and this time it returns to the ark with an olive branch in its mouth; hence the dove is now a symbol of new life, new hope, and a world that has been restored.
The story of the Flood is a well-known narrative with lessons around faith and faithfulness; but rarely do we consider that transition period when the waters start to subside, but the eight inhabitants are not yet out of lockdown. It’s dangerous to move forwards, but they are restless where they are. They no longer want to be cooped up inside a boat full of animals, but they fear drowning if they emerge; and, anyway, they have no idea what the ‘new normal’ will be. They are ‘weary, tempest-tossed voyagers’ (Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 105).
So Noah sends out a raven.
A raven is a bird of quick scent; it is an omnivore and will eat almost anything. It is also known to selfishly stash food away from others. The Bible tells us that the raven Noah sends is unsettled as it goes ‘to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth’ (Genesis 8:7, KJV).
Next, Noah sends out a dove.
A dove is a gentler, more giving creature. Doves are usually herbivores and will regurgitate their food in order to share it with their mate. After the dove is sent out and finds no place to land, it returns and settles back into the ark. Noah waits a further seven days and then sends out the dove again, and this time it returns to the ark with an olive branch in its mouth; hence the dove is now a symbol of new life, new hope, and a world that has been restored.
On 4 July 2020, lockdown will ease for many in the United Kingdom. The flood waters of the pandemic have raged for the past three months. Many lives have been lost; hundreds of thousands of people have been in infected in this country, and millions worldwide. Developed countries are reeling from the economic impact, and the developing world will bear the brunt of subsequent waves of the contagion.
But one of the spin-offs of the lockdown is an attitudinal change in people. Many, like the dove, have been caring and kind. We have heard many stories of the kindness of strangers, the tenacity of unlikely fund-raisers such as Captain Tom (since promoted to honorary colonel), and the dedication of so many front-line workers who have risked their lives in service to others. However, we have witnessed those who have used the lockdown for profit; those who have blatantly flouted the lockdown restrictions; and the many families who have experienced domestic violence in this period. And, as we emerge from lockdown, what lessons have we learned? Are we re-entering the world more compassionate and caring, or have the past few weeks encouraged selfishness and self-satisfaction as we thank God ‘that we are not like other men’?
Over the past few months, ADRA-UK has seen our churches come alive with a new spirit of compassion. Despite the closure of worship spaces, furloughed pastoral staff and lack of regular funding, 73 hubs throughout the UK have cared for their members, set up hardship funds, opened food banks, and distributed meals to front-line workers, refugees, rough sleepers, children in residential care homes, families on low incomes, people living with HIV/AIDS and those who have no recourse to public funds. In addition to this, they have provided psycho-social care through listening circles, helplines and face-to-face support (while observing social distancing). Much-needed hygiene products have been distributed, and clothing banks have been set up. They have cared for and helped to rehouse victims of domestic violence, and cared for those who are convalescing from COVID-19.
As we enter a new phase of recovery, which is a time of hope and restoration, we at ADRA-UK would like to invite you to join with us in raising funds to continue the work that we do with the world’s most vulnerable people.
It’s often too easy to be a raven and consider our own needs; it is harder to be a dove and care for the needs of others: but we are providing you with an opportunity to continue to demonstrate the gentle and meek spirit of the dove by supporting us as we relaunch our 2020 ADRA Appeal, which will run through July and August.
Written by: Catherine Boldeau (Development Education Officer and ‘I am Urban’ lead)