The Rainbow – Oct. 27, 2019

The Rainbow

An all ages sermon by Rev. Karen A. Mendes

Genesis 9:8-17

October 27, 2019

Main Idea: God’s promise never ends.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer.  Amen.

The story of Noah and the Ark is a fun story to act out and to sing about, but the most important part of the story is at the very end.  The story ends with the rainbow and God’s promise to care for all of creation forever.  This promise is a special kind of promise called a covenant, a binding agreement between God and all of creation. This covenant is unique in that it holds only one party to account. It is binding on God without requiring anything from us!  In this text the word covenant is used 7 times (a holy number) and each time God says it, the covenant expands; from Noah, his family, the creatures on the ark, and their descendants, to the earth, to every living creature, to all flesh.  The covenant is expansive, radiating out from God in an ever widening circle, a circle much like the rainbow itself.

Now let’s think about rainbows and how their very nature reveals God’s love and covenant with us.  Rainbows are beautiful, yes? And awe inspiring. Rainbows reveal the complexity of the light that we see and take for granted.  Rainbows occur when sunlight shines through water droplets, bending the light into different wavelengths. White light bends into red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and more.  A rainbow is more than the colors that we see. The light is refracted and reflected into wavelengths unseen by the human eye, ultraviolet and infrared. You can notice that the inside of the rainbow is brighter and the outside is darker.  A rainbow reminds us that the world is not simply black or white, or even the colors of our color wheel, it includes both the seen and unseen. God’s purposes and creative beauty are beyond our limited capacity to understand and yet we can trust that God is with us.  What we can experience and understand is truly amazing.

Rainbows can only be seen when there is rain in front of us and the sun is behind us.  Each person sees their own rainbow based on their own unique perspective. Did you know that rainbows are complete circles, the center of which is directly opposite the position of the sun? We can’t usually see the complete rainbow because of our horizon but folks in airplanes can see the full circle if the conditions are right.  Usually we see rainbows after a storm or when storm clouds are brewing.  The darker the clouds, the brighter the rainbow.  When we have God behind us, when we are “leaning on the everlasting arms”, we can see God’s promise to be with us no matter how dark the clouds or how difficult the circumstances.   

Rainbows have no distinct substance but they are definitely real. There is no way to go over a rainbow or to find a pot of gold at the end of it. There is no way to catch a rainbow and put it in your pocket. Rainbows are created out of stuff that is around us at all times which means the potential for a rainbow is always with us when we have light and air and a little bit of water or a piece of beveled glass.  A rainbow is simply a particular way of seeing something that is always there. God is always with us whether we recognize God or not.  The potential to experience God is always with us. Recognizing the presence of God with us is simply a particular way of seeing something that is always there.

Last week we talked about the persistence of God and the Rainbow Covenant reveals God’s persistence in loving and caring for us and all of creation no matter what.  In the everyday substance of our lives, God is active and available to us.  When storms and crises arise, God makes God’s self known to us with beauty and presence, especially if we lift our eyes up beyond the immediate crisis to see. 

As we move through our lives may we be aware of the rainbow potential around us at all times, aware of the presence of God around us at all times.  May we see the beauty and the wonder of this creation that God loves so much.  And may we praise God for the gift of all this.

Let us pray,

God of the Rainbow, we thank you for your providence and love.  We praise you for the complexity and simplicity of creation and for the opportunity to recognize you, especially when storm clouds threaten.  Be with us in good times and in bad.  Empower us to share the wonder of your love with all the world.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.