Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Over the Rainbow

Genesis 9:8  Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9  "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10  and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11  I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." 12  God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13  I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14  When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15  I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16  When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 17  God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.

Human beings have, through the generations, been awed by the rainbows that span our sky. The rainbow has significance in most of the cultures on earth, ranging from the Greek explanation of Iris taking messages between earth and heaven, the Hindu bow of the thunder god Indra, to the Irish leprechaun's secret hiding place for his pot of gold. The Judeo-Christian tradition has held that this is a sign of God’s promise that “the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Gen 9:15). All of these explanations have value for the cultures that have used them, and have no use for those outside of the culture: Iris only took messages in Greco-Roman mythology, Indra devotees alone believe that he holds up the sky, and all of us have failed to discover the gold at the end of the rainbow.

But what of God’s promise of “no more floods”? Because there have been countless floods since then, some have suggested that this is a promise that there will never again be a global, world-covering flood. This kind of reductionism diminishes the central message of the love of God. This passage was never about flooding the earth, and always about hope-filled signs in the world around us. It is an invitation for us to open our eyes and see evidence of God at work within our world. It challenges those who would understand God as one who sits ‘out there’ in the universe glaring at the earth in dismay to. Instead, find God ‘in here’ with us. God is as close as the beauty of the nearest rainbow – or the lilting sound of a bird, or the caress of a breeze on our skin.

The covenant is not that God will refrain from punishing humanity in a flood (but will punish us in another way!) The covenant is that God loves us, and is living here on earth alongside of us. The invitation for today is to live in a constant awareness of God at work in our world, and in our lives.

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream,
Really do come true.
Writer(s):Harburg, E Y / Arlen, Harold
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

Sixth  Sunday of Easter
Chosen by God
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 173.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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