Genesis 9: 8-17 (NRSVA)
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.’
Back in the depths of time, two generations of a family bubbled together, went into lockdown, socially isolated in the strictest terms, and endured a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions that changed everything of the world they had known. Eight people, locked into an ark a bit longer than a football pitch, about a third as wide, two storeys high, afloat on floods that removed every known landmark and carried them into an uncertain future where the only certainty was that life ongoing would be very different. As they floated, they would witness and have to interpret as people of faith the twin griefs of massive loss of human life and grand scale destruction of the natural world.
This is the dank moment in history for Noah’s family, with all its losses, threats, dislocation, bewilderment, bereavement and need for recovery and rebuilding. Into this landscape of devastation, devoid of biodiversity, mud coloured and cheerless, where human community is shrunk to this isolated family, God speaks. He turns around these bereft circumstances with promise. His covenant has an enduring solidity to it after the wave driven disorientation of the flood. In days that will roll in sure rhythm and in seasons that will turn with certainty, his promise comes that he will enduringly protect all of human and all of natural life.
In our moment of history, these current times, where the twin shadows of pandemic and climate change threaten our days, dare we believe God’s lasting covenant promise to every generation that the ground will not remain cursed on our account and that he offers protection and refuge to all life? Noah’s family story, of millennia ago, speaks to us profoundly of the relationship to our current world of all powerful God, who makes, cleanses, forgives, rescues, redeems, protects, heals and sustains.
You authored the rainbow,
Split light’s spectrum through grey mists of rain,
Took sunlight and water, elements of life,
To message your promise to all the earth,
Sign that you will protect and not destroy again by flood,
That the land will be healed to you.
Lord, lift our hearts to you through beauty,
In seasons’ remembrance of enduring covenant.
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Lent Legacy 2021 Action
Try baking a rainbow cake and share it. Find a rainbow card and post it. Perhaps just be a little more colourful for the rest of your life?