Signs of the Lord’s promise
Genesis 9: 1-17 (NRSVA)
1 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground, and on all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 Only, you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5 For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning: from every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.
6 Whoever sheds the blood of a human,
by a human shall that person’s blood be shed;
for in his own image
God made humankind.
7 And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.’
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.’
In the Harry Potter series advanced wizards are able to cast a ‘Patronus', a kind of guardian that acts as a shield. The Patronus is therefore a symbol and promise of protection. In ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’, Harry is taught how to cast a Patronus in order to protect himself from Dementor attacks. The form the Patronus takes is different for every wizard. The form Harry’s takes is a stag.
When reading the books to my son when he was young, the idea of a Patronuses captured my imagination. I’m a country girl at heart and love wildlife and nature. Ever since I can remember God has been using the natural world to speak to me. In my darkest moments I have often quite unexpectedly encountered deer, either as a family herd or alone. This encounter always has the power to lift my spirits as I am reminded that no matter what is happening in my life God is holding me, carrying me. I just have to trust him for God always keeps his promises.
After the flood God made the rainbow the sign of his promise to every living creature on the earth. What other signs is God using in your own life to communicate the promise of his Grace?
Father, we thank you for the signs of your love working in our lives.
We thank you for everything within this world that reflects the goodness of your kingdom,
Trust, justice, obedience and faithfulness.
We thank you for your Son Jesus and the salvation his life and death promise us.
We thank you for our Baptism and the sign of your grace within the water.
We thank you for Communion and the sign of your grace within the bread and the wine.
We do not deserve your love but through your grace we are promised forgiveness, cleansing and renewal.
We thank you for your Spirit which inspires and empowers daily us to display your grace to others.