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Remember the Rainbow 
Sunday, March 1, 2009, 06:00 AM - Sermon, Podcast
Genesis 9:8-17

Pastor Christy talks about rainbows of promise in the storms of life.


The message below is available as a podcast recorded live at our worship service. Click the podcast image to listen now or right click the image and choose "Save As" to save this message in mp3 file format on your computer for playing later.


An appropriate selection for the beginning of Lent, when we remember both our mortality in the death of Jesus on Good Friday, and our immortality redeemed by the risen Christ. Lent can be seen as the gathering of the storm of death and before the rainbow of new life on Easter on the other side of death.

A pastor I know wished Christians in the audience a “Happy Lent”! I whispered to him later that if he has a “happy” Lent…he is not doing it right. What do you think? Can one enjoy Lent? Have you waited for a storm? Maybe watching it roll in from the horizon or as a crawl on the bottom of the television screen. I remember a California couple being glued to the television as a tornado came through Louisville, Ky. For the mid-westerners, the tornado warning had meant we just moved the party to the basement, but to them it was a fearsome thing, they could think of nothing but updates on television. We had been through tornados and knew we have survived them, and will survive this one. We happily continued the church dinner. Our West Coast friends hadn't seen the other side of a tornado warning. They didn't even know what a thunderstorm was. They had never seen the rainbow the other side of a storm. Without the memory of the rainbow after the storm, the storm a threat, not a promise.

Last Friday morning, my cell phone buzzed four times. All the calls were from one person, me. Actually they were texts that I had sent various times to remind me of a task or a question to ask Friday morning. A high tech string around the finger to jog my memory about what I'm supposed to be doing when.

Today's scripture reading talks about God needing a memory jolt. A God-sized one, a rainbow, God's bow in the clouds. Does God need a memory device? Do we have a forgetful God? I talked to the children today about a memory device, a wedding ring. Just like the rainbow, it is a sign, a reminder of something never to be forgotten. It is more than a historical record, it reaches from that event in the past to present action. Because this happened in the past, my present world is changed. It is not for the danger of forgetting a historical fact but to celebrate a living relationship. Just as a wedding ring is not remind one of a wedding, but to serve as a anchor for a marriage relationship. When a married person hold up his or her hand it isn't to remind them of a wedding event, but to witness to the present relationship that the ring memorializes.

In the Secret Life of Bees, Elizabeth, a little girl, learns from Hira the meaning of the memory stick. A device that recalls the history of the generations before with each knot and nick. It is not a stick recording dead details of dusty history but way for those alive now to become part of the tribe, to be in relationship with their people, their ancestors. The stick is a way into the living faith of dead people.

The rainbow is for us not remember the ending of the flood, but the to witness to the continuing relationship with God who is not the destroyer. No matter how bad the storm, it isn't the end of the world. The rainbow still shines and it arches across all of creation.

It is a sign of the covenant between God and all the living creatures, that no matter how bad the storm…God is not the destroyer. The rainbow is as much for the animals as it is for us humans. Every living creature of all flesh are included in God's promise. The God of creation is concerned not just humans but with all animals. This should give us pause when our actions threaten God's creatures to the point of extinction, God did not save creation for us alone, the rainbow is for animals as well. We still travel in the ark together in God's care, today.

God's rainbow tells us that the storm will pass. God's rainbow tell us that destruction is the way of the world. There will be still be storms, but they will end. They will not be the end of us. Where are the rainbows after life's storms?

After the storm of financial world, folks might see that accumulating things isn't the sure way to happiness. We might have to invest in relationships rather than things. A rainbow might be a return to visiting instead of shopping, to valuing the long term sustainability of creation instead of a throwaway world. Perhaps the growing inequality between rich and the poor will be addressed. Perhaps we will take care of one another instead of trying to build our own solitary empires. Already, people are trending away from spending the future toward saving for the future. We might be on our way to a simpler way of living and thus allow others to simply live.

After the storm of being hitting bottom, of losing everything, a rainbow might appear of soberity and living clean. One that would not appear without the storm.

The mainline church is facing a storm. We might move out into a rainbow of a missional church where we seek not to preserve our era, but promote God's gospel. One of the things I see here is the move from fund raising dinners every quarter with me and my friends…to a missional free community dinner for the poor, our community and members together.

I continue to look for the rainbow in Color Our Rainbow Academy. I know the storms have come, but I have faith that there is a rainbow of hope and promise on the other side in our story together.

Finally, take time from looking for rainbows of God's care to thinking about how you are a rainbow. Do people see the storm or the rainbow in you? Do you shine the message that destruction isn't the last word? Do you remind people of the promises and relationships they have made that make them the persons they are today?

Maybe I was wrong, maybe even Lent is happy if we can remember that the rainbow of Easter is on the other side of the storm.

Amen.

Advanced permission is given for non-profit, for-prophet use of the above at no charge as long as it is reproduced unedited with notices and copyright intact. Written copies are provided after they are preached as a courtesy for the personal, private, appreciative use of the congregation of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church, their families and friends to support the ministry of Goodyear Heights Presbyterian Church and its pastor the Rev. J. Christy Ramsey. Join us Sundays! Join us Sundays! 9 AM Worship or 11 AM Song & Service. Sunday School for all ages is at 10 AM with a special Pastor's Class at 8:15 AM.


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