When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.
Maybe you have seen a picture or a logo showing a dove with an olive branch in its beak. That image draws from our reading for today. Over time, the image of a dove bringing a part of an olive tree has become a symbol for peace.
When we look a little closer at today’s passage, it becomes clear that Noah wasn’t just passively waiting for good, peaceful news. He first sent out a raven, a robust bird that flew “back and forth” but apparently did not come back into the ark—probably because it found plenty of carrion to eat. Noah then sent out a gentle dove—a more vulnerable bird—to go looking for signs of new growth. And then he waited attentively.
The dove soon returned because it “could find nowhere to perch.” So Noah brought it back into the ark for seven days. Then, when he sent the dove out again, it returned in the evening with an olive leaf. This meant the flood waters had receded to a safe level where the people and animals could flourish and thrive again, enjoying shalom (peace) in God’s world.
As we reflect on this, let’s consider ways in which we might participate in bringing peace in God’s world. Do we just say we want peace, or are we intentionally working toward it, even in small, possibly vulnerable ways? Are we also sharing the good news of Jesus, who brings peace and rest for people’s weary hearts?
Lord, help us to be bringers of peace in this world, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
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