Sunday 18th February

Genesis 9: 8 – 17 – Fleeting Moments

I wonder what you think of when you see a rainbow?  They fill me with joy for a fleeting moment and I strain to see them for as long as possible to make the moment last.

The Bible is peppered with moments of divine revelation.

The writers of the Bible have tried to pass on to us glimpses into moments of divine revelation from thousands of years ago, described in writing, but which, in all truth, are beyond the capacity of our limited, inadequate, clumsy language to describe and beyond the scope of our limited, inadequate understanding to understand.

Yet these important moments of clarity enabled people to see beyond their immediate concerns and preoccupations and begin to understand something brand new about God.  Although moments like these defied description, they needed to be described by the best of attempts of limited language to describe the indescribable, and understand the incomprehensible.

In the Bible are words that come from a different time, level of understanding and culture which attempt to convey and shed light on difficult to understand astonishing ‘moments’ in time.

These were often fleeting moments of wonder and awe when people felt a deep sensation that God was speaking to them.  In those specific circumstances – the appearance of a rainbow after the deluge of rain and the voice of God’s promise – the two things are linked together in perpetuity, as the rainbow became a reminder of what God said and the promise God made.

Perhaps, like me, although you know the science stuff about rainbows, knowing it doesn’t take away your childlike wonder and joy at the sight of one.  There’s nothing quite like a rainbow to lift the spirits, even in the dullest of surroundings.  Their beauty seems miraculous.  A magnificent display of a myriad particles, joined for a moment to dance together to radiate a display of warming joy, a fleeting and fragile moment of both diversity and extraordinary unity – a moment of divine revelation perhaps?

The rainbow of the story has been remembered over thousands of years – many hundreds, if not thousands of years before it was even written down. It would have been a well-loved story, probably remembered in times of worry and trouble to reassure us that nothing is ever going to be that bad again.  A message of much needed hope in times of adversity.

Whatever the historical accuracy of the text, it’s clear that Noah and his family had survived a traumatic time, which had taken its toll on a family cooped up for months with a multitude of creatures – domestic and wild – not to mention the loss of life for those friends drowned in the flood.

After the destructive flood had receded and Noah and his family had come out safely from the ark, the sun broke through the rain to warm the earth.  In that fleeting moment Noah experienced a flash of clarity, as a rainbow helped him to see beyond his immediate predicament.  In the moment of the rainbow’s presence, Noah understood God’s promise.  And he realised he had a message to pass on.  His job was to pass on that good news message to give hope and encouragement to those left to rebuild the known world, bit by bit and relationship by relationship.

“I am making a promise to you” God said “and with your descendants, and with all living beings, everything that came out of the boat with you, I promise that never again will a flood destroy the earth”.

And, because of that moment and word of promise, the rainbow became a sign and reminder of God’s eternal promise and hope.

So, when, for you, the rain and sun are mingled may you be blessed with hope in the sign of the rainbow and thank God for such fleeting moments of divine revelation.

Rev Janine