Lent Reflection – First Sunday

We are to be a rainbow people.
Light scattered, beautifully.
An archway between earth and heaven.
A sign of hope and promise.
A symbol of an everlasting covenant.
A harmony of colours.

Reading: Genesis 9:8-17

‘I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of a covenant between me and the earth.’ (Genesis 9:13) It has to be said that there are few sights more uplifting than a rainbow. It can be especially beautiful when the sighting is in the wilderness. I particularly remember seeing rainbows as my wife and I travelled down the Snake River in the Yukon Territories. It was a sight that few are blessed to see, with the rainbow against a backdrop of pristine northern wilderness – a sometimes harsh and unforgiving terrain.

So, it is not surprising that the rainbow became a symbol of hope, the hope of a new covenant (i.e. a new relationship) with God. Many a preacher has encouraged us to remember God’s love for us each time we see a rainbow. To see the promise that God will stay faithful to us.

But what struck me in reading this passage again was that the covenant is not between God and human beings, but between God and ‘the earth’ (Heb. eretz) (v13), with ‘every living creature’ (vs. 12 & 15). We see here that God cares for Creation as a whole, not just for its human inhabitants.

Then the rainbow becomes a reminder to us, as well as to God. For if God loves the whole of Creation, then we honour the covenant by caring for that which God loves. When we reduce our impact on the environment – by reducing, reusing and recycling (or whatever means we can) – we declare God’s love for creation.

Perhaps we can use this as part of our Lenten practice – what will we do to maintain or restore beauty in the natural world, the Earth that God made and loves?

O God, who is beyond all the ways we usually know things, 
we rejoice to meet you in the glories of nature, 
in our awe on the mountain top or beside the ocean, 
in the jewelled arch of the rainbow,
through the love that surges at a new birth 
or the beauty of a beloved face. 
Speak to us now from the scriptures, 
that we may hear the revelation of your love 
for us and for all creation,
through ancient script and spoken word, 
made vivid in the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Based on a prayer by Susan Durber from the United Reformed Church

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