Forming Faith Blog

Flood, Trauma, and Sept. 11th (Genesis 6; 8; 9)

What do we do when the trauma of the flood story is read on the anniversary of the traumatic terrorist attacks on September 11th? Mostly, it depends on your context.

Leafless tree in water. A flood is an event that can cause trauma.
Photo by Kathryn Archibald on
Welcome to Narrative Lectionary (Year 1)!

Welcome to the new year (at least in terms of the program year in the Northern Hemisphere)! This coming Sunday marks the beginning of many congregations’ Christian education programming, and—important for us—the first reading of the Narrative Lectionary (NL) year!

You can read more about the Narrative Lectionary here, but a quick explanation is that it is a worship lectionary that traces the biblical story from creation to the early church over the course of around nine months (this year, September 11th to May 28th).

Many of our faith formation resources here at Spirit & Truth Publishing follow the Narrative Lectionary, allowing children, youth, small groups, households, and intergenerational ministries to follow the readings used in worship together. During this Narrative Lectionary year, this blog provides reflections on the upcoming NL reading from a faith formation perspective, including a free resource or activity each week!

(Re)Creation in Year 1

The Narrative Lectionary is a four-year cycle, with each year focusing on a different Gospel. This year (Year 1) covers the Gospel of Matthew after we are finished with our time in the Old Testament, with the Gospel readings starting on Advent 4. The first reading of the NL year is always from the creation story. However, in Year 1, we don’t look at the stories of Genesis 1, 2, or 3, but we skip ahead to the Noah story in Genesis 6, 8, and 9. Why do we start here? I don’t know the official answer, but my theory is that the Noah story is an important one that doesn’t fit elsewhere (the second reading of each year always starts the story of Abraham). Noah’s story might not be one of creation, but it does involve re-creation.

Not a Child-friendly Story

Four years ago, I wrote about some of the struggles I have with the popularity of the Noah’s Ark story for babies and children. Looking past the animals and rainbows, this is a story about God causing what would have been the biggest extinction-level event in our planet’s history. I’m not going to even attempt to do the math, but this would likely be something like 99.99999% of all life on Earth being killed. Not exactly G-rated. You can read more of my thoughts on this in Noah’s Ark: Destruction and Hope.

Violence, Trauma, and September 11th

While the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, are always on many people’s minds in the days around September 11th, this year, that traumatic remembrance is on a Sunday. On a Sunday that we read a biblical story about violence, trauma, and death. At least in the US, I don’t think that the memory of the terrorist attack should be ignored (except in children’s classes, with youth it’s a contextual decision). Your congregation might have a tradition of remembrance already or at least it can be mentioned in a prayer. But the connection between that and Noah’s story might be a fruitful conversation with which to wrestle in an adult context. At a minimum, I think faith formation leaders should acknowledge this to themselves and decide on how (or whether) to address it.

Balance and Hope (Faith Formation Connection)

Especially within a context that includes or is focused on children, it is indeed best to avoid dwelling on the trauma in the Noah story. But I do think that the difficult parts of Scripture should be consciously put aside when they are not developmentally appropriate, not ignored, and hope people don’t figure it out later. Some people reject the faith later on if they feel that they were “lied to” about the content of our faith.

So it is important for adults (and perhaps youth) to wrestle with the trauma of this story. All people, especially children, need to hear some good news from this story. We do need to focus on God’s promises (covenant) and the hope they bring. “God’s Promises Bring Hope” is indeed the theme that we use in our resources from this story through October 9th (The Ten Commandments).

God’s blessings on your ministries,

Gregory Rawn (Publisher)

Free Resource

During the main Narrative Lectionary year (September 11 to May 28), we provide a free resource download from one of our products to help you in your faith formation ministry. This week, download a free activity “Building Challenge” from our intergenerational classroom curriculum Living the Word: Cross+Gen Education (NL). While we designed this activity for an intergenerational audience, you can use it in many faith formation setting with most age groups.

2022-2023 Faith Formation Resources

The program year is upon us. Have you made all your decisions for your congregation’s faith formation needs? At Spirit & Truth Publishing, we might just have exactly what you are looking for:

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