A Sign of Hope

by Duane Maust
First Sunday of Lent
March 5, 2006
Genesis 9:5-17

We probably can all remember a time when we have seen a rainbow. I have seen a few double rainbows at our place in Lost Gap. The rainbow is usually right up over the city. It is often just after a heavier storm when it is just drizzling. I remember storms during strawberry season. I don’t remember seeing a rainbow because there would have been trees in the way to see. At our house is a good place to see rainbows.

The rainbows are God’s promise to us still today that there will not be a flood over the world. The rainbow will forever be a sign of hope. The rainbow is a reminder between God and man forever.

If anyone needed a promise or two, it was Noah! Can you imagine being told by God to build an ark, gather your family and two of every kind of living creature, get in and close the doors, and wait? Then it starts to rain and it keeps it up for 40 days and 40 nights. That would be like it started to rain today and didn’t stop until April 13. That is a long time to never see the sun shine. But that’s exactly what Noah endured. He obeyed God’s commands. He built the ark, he gathered his family and all the creatures and he floated in circles for a month and a half while the waters rose above the earth. You have to wonder if he ever gave it a thought he might die on this boat.

God is a god of promises. We know that because we have the Bible to tell us that. Noah learned that by living it. That rain did stop and the sun did reappear and the water subsided so that eventually the doors of the ark could be opened and Noah, his family, and all the creatures could step out on solid ground. If that were the end of the story, man would forever live in fear that God would do this again to get rid of all the evil in the world. Considering the state our world is in today, this would be a good time for a flood, don’t you think? But that’s not what will happen. I do not predict the future. I do read and believe my Bible.

Read Genesis 9: 15-17.

How many more ways does God have to say it? That rainbow in the sky that we see today is a sign of God’s promise to us never to destroy all life again. But there is more. There is yet another reason why the rainbow is a sign of God’s grace to us.

Peter sums it all up rather nicely as he talks about Noah and his family being saved from a sure death. You and I too have been saved from a sure death in this way: Christ died for our sins. He did it once and he did it for all mankind. That’s for each of us here today.

Christ is the perfect one, the perfect sacrifice. Only an exchange of the righteous for the unrighteous would be enough. So Jesus did what he had to do. He went to the cross to pay for sinfulness.

Read 1 Peter 3: 18-22.

The flood represents disaster, failure and destruction of God’s good earth and relation with humanity. We all have some forms of failure in ourselves and in our families. Yet in the midst of this disaster, God protects and preserves humanity. He saves us. The rainbow is a symbol of hope in God. It is a sign of power.

That rainbow in the sky is more than a promise that God will never send a flood again. More importantly, it is the reminder of our baptism through water, our salvation in Jesus Christ and our promise of eternal life.

When I was here at the church Friday, I was trying to think of a way to make this a symbol for us today. We don’t see that many rainbows. I got to thinking about this sanctuary. Maybe I let my mind wonder a little, but I think it will help us see God’s promises here in a new way.

We have the colors of the rainbow streaming in our windows. We have God promises all around us right here. The arches on the top of the windows symbolize the bow of the rainbow. We have it on all four sides. God’s love surrounds us.

Read Mark 1:9-15.

Just like God came down on Jesus that day, his spirit comes down on us. He wants to tell each of us today, “you are my child, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.”

The Pastor and elders will give a water blessing to anyone that comes forward. It is for the young and old. Anyone that wants a blessing can come forward.

“As God watched over the water of creation and brought forth life.
So we invite God to bless us with new life as we receive the water of blessing today.
In this Lenten season, may God draw us deeper into the love of Christ and grant us the joy of our salvation.”

Words given to recipients: “Our God has called you beloved.”

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