There is a third tree mentioned in the Noah story. The Ark was built out of gopher wood that we associate with cypress today. The dove brought back and olive leaf from the olive tree to tell Noah it would soon be safe to leave the Ark as God led. Thirdly, though, comes the story involving a vine. We have some ugly history around this story and really have no clear, definite explanation, but the story is there and so I ponder it.
God told Noah is was time for him, his family and all the animals and birds to leave the Ark and multiply and fill the earth. God put a rainbow in the sky as a symbol of his covenant to never destroy the earth by water. Noah was put over plants and animals and told not to eat meat with blood in it. Noah exited the Ark and immediately planted a vineyard. A vine is not exactly a tree, but it is not a flower either. It produces fruit and Noah made wine and got drunk. One of the sons discovered Noah and something happened that is not clear but because of it Noah cursed his son and people through history have assumed that some sorts of people are better than others.
Genesis means “beginnings” and perhaps this is the beginning of racism, not because of language as the story of Babel deals with, and not because of geography but somehow we develop theories to convince ourselves that some people are better than others. Ugly, horrible actions then are justified as in genocide. All cultures do it and we are wrong when we participate in prejudice in its subtle forms.
The story is very murky. Noah is drunk. The one son does something wrong. Two sons try to rectify the wrong. And Noah is angry enough to curse his son. Sin is like that. A blessing of a vine that gives fruit becomes the source of family conflict and division and the story is twisted, convoluted and impacts generations that follow.
Perhaps your family does not have the skeletons and rifts of the Hatfields and McCoys or of Romeo and Juliet but our world is marked by divisions rooted in sin. Let us spend time this morning confessing and praying for our world and for the many areas of conflict politically, socially and morally. Lord, have mercy!