First Sunday in Lent

(Also, as an mp3 audio file.)

Scriptures :
Genesis 9:8-17; Genesis 2:15-17 and Genesis 3:1-7; Deuteronomy 26:1-11.

Psalm 91; Psalm 103.
1 Peter 3:18-22

Matthew 4:1-11;
Luke 4:1-13;
Mark 1:9-15.

At the Rainbow’s End

In Genesis 9, God is blessing Noah and his sons, after the flood. At several points, it doesn’t sound all that much like a blessing (for instance, in v. 5, God tells them they and the animals will all eventually die). But then, God does something striking: the God of All, the Flood-Maker, the Flood-Remover, is now bound to fragile, small, perishable beings. (This is called a ‘covenant’, a sort of contract, only, this is one that’s declared unilaterally.) The God of the Flood is promising that the earth as a whole and all its creatures, including Noah and his descendents, will never again be destroyed by flood. And the sign of this daring act of solidarity is the rainbow — the colors that signal the end of the storm, the start of the sunlight. The rainbow is the beautiful natural sign of the arrival of what is hoped for.

That was just step 1 in the Creator’s promises to the created. More kept being added — more covenants, with Abraham and David. However, none of these covenants by themselves did much to treat the long-term illness. That took the ultimate act of loving solidarity: God living as a human being. Going through a creaturely life. And going through death, from other creaturely hands. The start of this was to be born. Then, to live out the divine, Spirit-powered mission. A mission that began when John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Jesus called on people to live differently, for God was about to set things right. Indeed, the mission led to death, but then to life again, leading to a covenant that those who follow Jesus would find that when the storm of life itself is over, there is a new day at the end of the rainbow.

Father, teach me to put my hope in you. Help me to trust in what You have declared will be. Lead me to thank you for what You’ve done. Guide me to be a part of Your continuing mission. Amen.

Bob Longman


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